A group of 40 former university students from Tanzania, Nigeria and Swaziland have created a home model that may solve Africa’s housing and energy needs, two problems that pervades the region and others across the world.
The model, a portable, energy-efficient home inspired by African architecture was originally built for a competition. But now, the team is hoping to make it available in Africa’s real estate market soon, according to a CNN report detailing the next plan of the team, ‘team Jua Jamii, Using recycled shipping containers, the team made a home model that is powered 100 per cent by solar energy.
The home was initially built as an entry for the Solar Decathlon Africa, a competition that was organised by the US Department of Energy to encourage African students to promote sustainability and meet energy housing needs.
The two-year long competition brought together 18 teams from different universities in Africa, including Jua Jamii, to create innovative, energy-efficient building structures.
The last stage of the Solar Decathlon took place in September in Morocco. Although, team Jua Jamii did
not win the competition, the team members, who have now graduated from their various master’s
degree programs say they will take their product to the market in 2020.
Donald Abonyi, a member of the team who serves as the health and safety officer said the group is now focused on creating a business plan that will consider the marketability, energy production and cost of putting the house on the market.
“We want to be able to build this house for people and companies interested in our product. We also want to advise construction companies on how to build similar efficient houses,” he told CNN.
The prototype is built on approximately 114 square meters. The team members say it, however, can be made in any size requested by consumers.
According to Abonyi, the house is a good fit for many people because it doesn’t take long to build.
“It took us two weeks to build. We can easily get one for people who are interested in our innovation,”he said.
“We all came together to apply to be shortlisted for the competition in late 2017. We wanted to solve some of Africa’s housing problems,” Abonyi was on CNN.
“But now we are working on becoming a startup that will use green and self-sufficient building solutions to fight housing problems on the continent,” he added.
The team started building the house with a simple plan to create affordable and energy-efficient housing for middle-income families in Africa. The team later expanded from six members to 40 in 2018 to make room for the implementation of broader ideas.
By gathering shipping materials from a port in Morocco, they were able to lay the foundation for the building. In many African countries like Nigeria, residents have to cope with the double challenge of housing and power. For power, most residents rely on fuel-powered generators, due to non-availability and high cost of power.
“It is a house that is net-zero. So it produces its own energy and does not consume more than the energy it produces,” Francis Fotsing Sadeu, one of the team members, told CNN.
According to Sadeu, Northern African architecture was incorporated into building the house.