Mobile Power: From Sheffield to Sub-Saharan African

Over 1.3 billion people around the world don’t have convenient access to electricity. Instead, they use toxic oil lamps to light their home, or they have to travel miles to use expensive generators. 

After spending time in The Gambia, co-founders Jono West and Chris Longbottom noticed a gap in the market for a reliable energy source. Although they understood solar home system (SHS) solutions were gaining traction, they also noted a pay-per-use trend on products from water to washing powder. They knew they could offer an energy solution that avoided people taking on long-term debt – and better yet, they could offer a clean energy solution. 

Established in 2013, Mobile Power is a renewables-powered battery rental service in off-grid areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, removing the need for dangerous traditional diesel generators and reducing energy costs by up to 75%.

A sustainable and commercial business model, they provide power to over 100,000 people with bases in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. They expect to reach one million customers within the next three years. 

While the product is designed for and used on the African continent, it was devised and developed in Sheffield. Drawn to the city’s rich manufacturing industry, as well as local expertise and affordability, the team felt it was the ideal place to develop the Mobile Power batteries. The team also benefited from the incredible business support available in the region.

Business Sheffield were on hand in the initial stages, with a start-up growth advisor guiding them through everything from launch to prioritising. Accelerate Sheffield and Dotforge helped Mobile Power raise the majority of their funding within the city. And The University of Sheffield’s Energy Institute were integral to the recent design and build of the batteries, led by Professor Dan Gladwin. Overall, this is an incredible example of the supportive business community within our region.


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