In conversation with Ibrahima Mbacke, co-founder and manager at LiIFI LED, an organisation that offers access to lighting, high-speed internet and educational content using a LED light bulb and Light Fidelity(Lifi) technology. LIFI LED was founded in 2014 by Ange Frederick Balma in Côte D’Ivoire.
Can you tell us about LIFI LED and how it came to be?
Ange Frederick Balma, founder and CEO, was on one of his father’s farms in the Ivory Coast for production control. He realised that he was cut off from the world without electricity and internet thus having no access to his friends and colleagues. While he was at that time an engineer in a telecommunications company with a good position, he decided to become an entrepreneur, spending his time in research and development with his own funds until he became the first African to develop LiFi solutions (with patents) to be more useful to Africa and the world via engineering and LiFi technology. He created LIFI LED in 2014.
LIFI LED specialises in LiFi integration and commercialisation solutions (the first African company in LiFi) smart lighting, renewable energy and dynamic contents. LIFI-LED has been working in the field of renewable energies and data transmission by light with our technological innovation LiFi (Light Fidelity) since 2014. “We are positioning ourselves as the leaders of the next technological and digital revolution in Africa and around the world,” says Mbacke
Indeed, the problem of the energy deficit in Africa and its corollary of access to electricity for all, as well as the problem of high-speed internet connectivity, considerably hamper both economic and social development. We aim to make Africa a smart continent through the combination of solar energy and innovative communication technology. A continent where light brings hope, that of sustainable and inclusive development. We provide electricity, high-speed internet with content for students and farmers via satellite, LiFi technology and solar energy, and we also provide smart cities solutions. We have indoor and outdoor solutions (LiFi solar kits, LiFi bulbs, LiFi autonomous solar street lights, LiFi hotspots, LiFi connectivity applications for smartphones, tablets and computers). LiFi LED was created to bridge the digital divide and energetic deficit in Africa.
How does LIFI LED work and how is it used by ordinary people?
LIFI LED provides electricity and high-speed internet in rural areas. Around 80 villages in Ivory Coast now have electricity and high-speed internet thanks to LIFI LED solutions. We are also active in five other African countries. We covered high-speed connectivity at the Francophonie Summit in 2016 in Antananarivo, Madagascar via LiFi.
People in those areas now have access to electricity and high-speed internet. Young boys and girls can learn their lessons during the night and receive content for their education. Farmers have access to trading for their activities and can interact with markets and customers to sell their products. Health staff in remote areas have access to training, electricity and internet for their work and can interact with qualified colleagues for telemedicine. Our latest innovation is our LiFi smart solar street lights providing lighting, high-speed connectivity with integrated sensors for rainfall forecasts and data, carbon emissions rate, fine particles and sunshine rate. 5G will be integrated very soon in our streetlights.
Can you tell us about the work your organisation has done? For example, how many homes or people has your organisation supplied lighting or internet access to?
LIFI LED has made important achievements, deeply changing the daily life of thousands of people in the Ivory Coast and other African countries. LIFI LED provides light and high-speed internet to 52,000 people. With our activities, we create jobs contributing to youth employment.
What is the potential of LIFI LED in terms of helping to close the digital gap?
LIFI LED really has the potential to close the digital divide in Africa and also beyond. Our adapted products (indoors and outdoors) on the ground have proven our ability to provide high-quality services. We are in a growth, expansion stage. We are present in six African countries with expansion in other African countries. An important project is to start very soon in a central African country for LiFi smart street lighting, electrification, and high-speed connectivity of thousands of households.