Students Gain Experience with Energy Challenges in Emerging Markets Through Competition
In Nigeria, a nation of 200 million people, less than 6,000 megawatts of electricity flow through the grid—less than one-fifth of the capacity of North Carolina alone. The power system is economically crippling, with households and businesses relying on loud, polluting diesel generators for electricity that cost 3-5 times what Americans typically pay.
A startup company known as Aspire Power Solutions is deploying hybrid solar systems in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, to try to make electricity more reliable, affordable, and cleaner for businesses and residents. As it expands, Aspire is facing a series of challenges—finding skilled labor, raising financing, and increasing the scale of the company.
On Nov. 5, a dozen student teams from across the United States and overseas came to Duke University for the finals of the Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition to pitch solutions to Aspire’s case. Now in its seventh year, the competition is one of the signature events of Energy Week at Duke.
“This has become an excellent event to provide business students—as well as policy, engineering, and students of other backgrounds with interests in social entrepreneurship—practice in mobilizing business models for development impact,” said Jonathan Phillips, director of the Duke Energy Access Project, the sponsor for the competition.