Who, What & Where

  • Sunna Design

  • Sunnami – Nanogrid Sunna

  • Niomoune, Casamance, south of Senegal

  • Year of completion: 2016

The Company

In France, Sunna designs and manufactures innovative solar off-grid solutions for developing countries, withstanding desert and tropical environments (up to 70°C). Thanks to an ambitious R&D programme, Sunna holds 10 patents protecting a unique technology that has already become the reference on the solar street light market. Sunna just released the “Nanogrid”, its most innovative solution ever for off-grid populations: a solar street light that brings energy also inside homes

The Challenge

Most of the rural population in Casamance, Senegal, lives off-grid. People use kerosene, torch lamps and candles (which are expensive and damage their health) to light their homes. Some companies tried to bring electricity but failed at maintaining the systems. People are still waiting for a trustworthy and affordable energy access.

Opportunities for Renewables

Thanks to a high level of sunlight in the region, solar energy brings enough light and electricity to homes and public spaces.

Renewable Solution

Sunna designed the Nanogrid, generating enough energy to power a small DC grid connecting up to four homes. Each household benefits from four LED lights, one portable LED light, one USB for mobile charging, and public lighting. The Nanogrid is an innovative way of delivering energy access, allowing a 100% electrification rate. Sunna offers a 10-year lifespan maintenance free product. With Bluetooth, GSM and GPS based connectivity, Sunna monitors the systems remotely and ensures correct functioning.

In a joint venture with a local partner the locally based and staffed organisation Sunna Solar System (SSS), ensures the sustainability of the project. The technical team installs and maintains the Nanogrid while the commercial team keeps in touch with and educates the customers and resellers, and collects the money from the villagers’ resellers.

Project Financing and Costs

The business model is based on Pay-As-You-Go. Sunna prefinances the CAPEX and OPEX, connects and operates the Nanogrid. Customers then pay their daily energy fee and repay the equipment in a couple of years. PAYG maximises the repayment rate: failure to repay will result in a cut in energy access. The first phase of the project was co-financed by crowd lending: 500,000 EUR were collected from 500 different funders. Now Sunna is looking at completing the 10,000,000 EUR million overall project cost with private, multilateral and donor funding.

Project Outcome

  • Around 1,000 people benefit from the solution with a very impressive penetration rate of 97% in the village. Children in Niomoune can now study after sunset and have better access to education, while the Nanogrid has replaced the kerosene lamps, their smoke and fire hazard. Customers indicated they save average 192 EUR per year.
  • An important lesson learnt was that local presence, training and after sales service is very important for user acceptance.

The Senegalese Agency for Rural Electrification (ASER) has already granted Sunna Design a 5,000 nano-grids programme in off-grid areas of Casamance with an objective to connect 20,000 households by the end of 2018.


Thomas Samuel

+33 6 35 92 50 28