How an African NGO hosted an Omdena AI challenge to bring solar energy to Nigeria through data science and machine learning.

 

By Omdena Partner Ademola Eric Adewumi


 

I am the Co-Founder of the NGO Renewable Africa and in the following I share my experiences regarding our first Omdena Challenge. Within the two month AI challenge, Omdena’s team built a powerful tool to identify the most suitable spots for solar panels.

 

 

Africa is rich in renewable energy sources, especially solar energy.

Unfortunately, the abundance of solar power has not been harnessed yet.

In my home country Nigeria, most people grew up in darkness with regular power outage. Many businesses nowadays use diesel-powered generators to produce electricity. I went through several periods without electricity altogether.

A change needs to happen.

That is why, Omachonu Joshua Dominic and I founded the NGO RA365, with the mission of providing renewable energy to most at-need communities in Nigeria to stop the energy crisis.

 

A welder doing his daily work with a diesel powered generator

Diesel engine supplied electricity

 

Non functional Electric Transformer

Non Functional Transformer

 

Quickly, we realized the potential of using AI for solar energy but were looking for a partner to build the solutions.

Supported by Sebastian Laverde who joined Omdena’s community early on we got in contact with Omdena and within two weeks designed an AI challenge on their platform.

The goal was to end energy poverty in Nigeria via building machine learning algorithms suitable to identify the best spots for solar power.

We were impressed and encouraged by the attendance of willing participants brought together from all around the world by the large network of Omdena.

At this point, Dominic and I knew we had the right minds to revolutionize the electrification system in Nigeria.

The community of AI experts swung immediately into action and the members displayed a penchant enthusiasm. The sacrifice and empathy to participate in a mission of helping a country they had never seen was overwhelming for the RA365 team.

It provided us a deep dive into the power of data science and machine learning

Much thanks to Rudradeb Mitra, an astute personality with a heart of gold, for being a blessing to this generation. Through his humanitarian assistance, and overseeing leadership, he has brought great minds together.

To all, we have to say,

We are very grateful.

 

The challenge was separated into two phases — the research phase which was executed by the Omdena community. This involved using machine-learning based heatmaps and grid coverage analysis to identify regional clusters in Nigeria that are most viable for installing solar panel stations.

 

Heatmaps that show Solar Irradiance

The developed heatmaps are reproducible in other African countries or developing places where solar energy could bring in value.

If you are interested in a more technical understanding of the AI solutions, check this article.

The second phase entails the physical deployment of a mini-off-grid solar power generation substation to power a remote community.

 

Solar Farms

The enthusiasm exhibited by the Omdena community sparked reassuring confidence in the RA365 team to deliver on its part of the challenge.

Our team had made great strides in using the state of the art results obtained from the challenge to built significant partnerships in the solar energy industry in Germany and with Nigerian governmental agencies.

The greatest hurdle for the second phase of the challenge is raising funds to deploy the mini-off-grid substations. At the moment, we are seeking funders for a mini-off-grid substation, which is estimated to be above 300,000 Euro.

This can provide electricity to approximately 4000 inhabitance for a span of 20 years.

Lastly, we want to say that Omdena has changed the face of philanthropy by its support in helping people suffering from electrical energy poverty.

With this great humanitarian help, Renewable Africa hopes to make its mission a reality, bringing abundant energy to Africa.

About Omdena

Building AI through global collaboration

Omdena is a global platform where changemakers build ethical and inclusive AI solutions to real-world problems through collaboration.

Learn more about the power of Collaborative AI.