Africa ClimAccelerator Start-Up Spotlight: D-Olivette

Started in February 2018, D-Olivette is a Nigerian company that manufactures domestic systems that convert waste into biogas, which is used for cooking and lighting, with the byproduct used as fertilizer.

The systems are known as Kitchen Box and the idea behind the innovation is to provide affordable and efficient energy to improve lifestyles while mitigating environmental pollution and climate change.

Tunde Adeyemi, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, had specialised in environmental studies and had always wanted to provide solutions that can contribute to the ambitions of zero waste, the conservation of nature and sustainability.

In 2018, Adeyemi visited a village of about 50,000 residents in rural Nigeria, where he observed that the mode of cooking was entirely dependent on firewood. It happened that his grandmother and mother dwelt in this small community, which made it like a second home to him.

“Long periods of exposure to smoke can cause serious health complications and I watched my grandmother and mother struggle with illness due to smoke exposure. She struggled with her health for quite some time without knowing the cause of the illness until it was informed to us by a doctor that the cause was due to smoke exposure,” Adeyemi recalled.

Nigerian women and children have over the years borne the brunt of the harmful effects of the indoor smoke that comes from using the open firewood stoves known as Adogan. The smoke affects their eyesight and generally leads to deterioration of health.

The use of firewood, as well as charcoal, is also harmful to the environment because it leads to deforestation and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the making and burning of charcoal. In 2021, Global Forest Watch reported that Nigeria has lost more than 400,000 hectares of forest over 10 years.

As the solution provider he had always wanted to be, Adeyemi thought of bringing solar power to the community because they were at risk.

“I found the installation of solar quite expensive and I had to quickly think of another means to help my community. After doing research, I thought of coming up with biodigesters to provide clean cooking to the community,” he said.

The biodigester works by converting organic waste or biodegradable water, through degradation, into gas. One unit can generate at least three hours of electricity.

The Kitchen Box Biodegster also comes with an app that helps users track how much biogas to anticipate and calculate its cooking or electricity capacity and the expected output of fertiliser.

“You get to cook for free, get electricity, and cut over 90% of energy expenses for over 10 years while producing free fertiliser,” Adeyemi explained.

Operating in the southern part of Nigeria, the company has so far installed over 1,000 units of Kitchen Boxes in its rural settlement. This has helped thousands of families who live in the community to have biogas for cooking and powering small home appliances. The Kitchen Box Biodigester ranges from 25 to 200 litres.

D-Olivette Enterprise aims to tackle the persisting issue of energy poverty in rural Nigeria by providing pocket-friendly and scalable solutions (biodigesters) to keep track of organic waste input, biogas, and bio-fertiliser output as part of an urban waste management system.

D-Olivette Enterprise’s revenue is based on three pillars: biodigesters product sales, maintenance fees associated with servicing and upgrading biodigesters, and extended warranty fees and hardware support.

While the company largely operates in the southern part of Nigeria, its market has grown to Guinea Bissau.

“The only challenge we have faced is the language barrier and currency, but we have managed to have wide market access in this area,” Adeyemi said.

Five-thousand domestic biodigester systems will release zero-carbon emissions when producing 10 MWh of power and will produce an average of 2,729 kg of biogas annually. By 2026, the estimated sold products will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon emissions by an estimated 2.1 million tons.

“We aim to provide ‘zero waste’ solutions by producing affordable and sustainable solutions and services in terms of quality, reliability, and performance to serve the domain of biogas, compost, and electrification and to translate our customised technologies into value for our customers, stakeholders, and the environment,” Adeyemi said.

D-Olivette was one of 15 start-ups selected to participate in the Africa ClimAccelerator, the first pan-African accelerator focused on scaling the most promising climate-focused innovations. The six-month programme was delivered by partner organisations GrowthAfrica and the Carbon Trust, supported by the Climate-KIC International Foundation and funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (‘GIZ’) exclusively on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (‘BMZ’).

An original version of this article was published here on 5 April.

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