Ivory Coast: Interview with Angel-Frédérick Balma, founder of LIFI-LED
Ivory Coast: Interview with Ange-Frédérick Balma, founder of LIFI-LED
400 km from Abidjan, the economic capital of the country, in the remote village of his father, Frederick-Ange Balma is cut off from the world. The network of his Smartphone does not pick up, the internet connection is non-existent, worse, there is no light. "We are in 2014, it's not normal" plague Frédérick-Ange Balma. It is this immersion in the dark that will spurt three years later LIFI-LED. Meeting with the Ivorian innovator who changes the game.
"Near Soubré, a city in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire, I lived two weeks of hell, without lighting and without internet connection.To recharge the phone and communicate, it was necessary to reach the city center to an hour's drive," says the founder and CEO of LIFI-LED. Yet it is the daily life of 650 million Africans. Graduated from the Higher Technological Studies of the Ecole Supérieure d'Electronique de l'Ouest (Angers / Aix-en-Provence) and with certification in connected objects and expertise in security system, big data and renewable energies Ange-Frédérick Balma, more determined than ever, has put his knowledge at the service of those who live in the shadow of modernity.
Upon his return from this nightmare expedition on family plantations, he creates LIFI-LED. Objective: to solve the problem of inaccessibility to broadband internet, the energy deficit of certain populations and allow them to have access to information.
In 2014, with his team, he focuses on the Research and Development (R & D) part of the invention to ensure its industrial feasibility. In 2015, he devoted himself to prototyping technology. "In the next three years, we did a number of tests until we reached the commercialization phase in 2017 for our first deployments."
Triple action: energy, connectivity, training
LIFI-LED brings energy with solar. "With a solar panel, and a battery, we get to have electricity". LIFI-LED uses a led bulb to provide light, convey information, the Internet and content for its users. "It's a qualitative and quantitative leap," he explains.
LiFi is an international standard adopted worldwide since 2011. It is a wireless communicating light technology. "In addition, LEDs can turn on and off more than a million times per second, without impacting on vision, which translates to a gigabit per second (1GB / s) speed," explains T -he. It is these intervals that transmit coded information thirty to one hundred times faster than WiFi. At this transmission speed is added the low power consumption of LEDs coupled with their longevity. The light, in real medium supports a plethora of applications imaginable, starting from the simple transmission of data on a peripheral until the establishment of a smart city where the light can geo-locate, guide, inform, train, educate , raise awareness, monitor, alert, etc.
Innovation serving the rural population and the African continent
"Our business model is to make available to our users, passes to activate different services (electricity, internet and multimedia) at once and they buy by mobile money or in cash from an approved supplier in the towns and villages We use Individual Solar Systems in PAYG (Pay As You Go) through costs that are reviewed for the rural populations.These rates are the equivalent of 1 € / day, 5 € / week and 15 € / month, so we make a profit on our various facilities in order to continue to make other deployments. " Ange-Frédérick Balma works tirelessly to provide electricity, connectivity and content to people in remote areas.
"We are proud to have electrified five villages of several thousand inhabitants, a village in the Central African Republic and several in Côte d'Ivoire". Currently present in 5 countries, with 25,000 users of LIFI-LED, the engineer hopes in the short term to deploy this innovation across the continent.
Côte d'Ivoire has shown us its gratitude and recognition by designating our startup as the best digital innovation 2017. This award was presented by President Alassane Ouattara
In the long term, Ange-Frédérick Balma hopes to set up a factory to manufacture their product. Become a multinational with the capacity to cover the continent. Install 4000 villages in Côte d'Ivoire, a project in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to concretely solve the problems of rural populations and farmers.
1st PRIZE of EDF PULSE AFRICA 2019
The engineer Ange-Frédérick Balma is part of a bubbling eco-system in Ivory Coast, that of Tech. With Lifi-LED, green technology, ecological, non-harmful to health and the environment, he finished first winner of the third edition of EDF PULSE AFRICA 2019 which final was held on November 21st. This is clearly the Ivorian start-up to follow!