Provide a summary of the concept, how it works/could work, and why it could be successful
Shamsina is an Egypt-based company that provides affordable solar technology solutions
for energy poor communities. Shamsina manufactures original solar powered water
heaters, which it offers to target communities using a unique financial model which allows
end-users to secure the service of hot water through monthly subscription fees. The water
heater is purchased upfront or over a year by a ‘point-person’, typically a building owner
with rights over roof space, and provided to end-users as a service. Both the technology
(offered at a cheaper rate than others on the market) and financial model enable
communities without an existing source of hot water to secure their basic hot water
Explain briefly the specific problem(s) you are trying to solve, and how your solution impacts or will impact the region
Poverty comes in many forms and carries a multitude of dimensions. Energy poverty, one
of these forms, is a particularly dangerous global challenge; it keeps the poor, poor.
Women and children are often the most affected. They spend their time pursuing
dangerous methods of heating and lighting. These methods wreak havoc on both human
and environmental health, and leave less time for education, work or other pursuits. In the
Middle East, the challenge is often understudied and overlooked, in part because of the
region’s role as an energy producer. In Egypt, I have witnessed this challenge firsthand
through my volunteer roles in diverse communities. One manifestation of energy poverty is
lack of access to safely heated water. 47% of Egyptian households—roughly 40 million
individuals—do not own a water heater, whether gas or electric. For those households, that
means that water for basic needs—from bathing to cleaning—is heated over a makeshift
fire, a gas tank, or a kerosene lamp.
In one unplanned Cairo district where I have volunteered, AlDarb AlAhmar, 25% of residents
heat water over a kerosene lamp. Oftentimes, this means that the women or sometimes
children of the household toil over the time-consuming task of heating water, multiple
times a day. These lamps emit hundreds of hazardous and carcinogenic compounds;
studies equate the impact of inhalation of fumes from a single kerosene lamp to first-hand
smoking of two packets of cigarettes. This is not to mention other externalities, including
high rates of burns among children. In Cairo, Ain Shams hospital alone treats over 180
children each year due to burns from these lamps, 3 of which do not survive. This is just
one example of hundreds of communities across the country that suffer similar challenges
due to lack of access to affordable hot water.
Shamsina works to practically address the problem of lack of affordable access to hot
water. Shamsina manufactures solar water heaters at a fraction of the price of those on
the market, and offers a financing model that makes it realistic for energy poor households
to safely and conveniently attain hot water for daily needs. Solar water heaters are sold to
a ‘point-person’ (often the owner of a building with rights over roof space), who in turn
provides hot water to end-users as a service, at a monthly fee that is competitive with the
running costs of alternate water heating methods (the gas tank, kerosene lamp, and
electric or gas heater).
Geographical Scope: where is the innovation currently operating/where would it first be applied and where would it scale?
Shamsina has implemented pilots in locations across Egypt (including Cairo, Dumyat,
Fayoum, Sinai, Sohag, Qalyoub and Qena); at this stage it will operate on a national level,
before proceeding to contexts with similar challenges.
Please state the current status of your initiative
Beneficiaries: Explain who would benefit from this solution and indicate whether you would be working with a local partner or organization to implement (if so,specify)
The ultimate beneficiaries are energy poor communities, currently using time-consuming,
unsafe, and unhealthy approaches to heating water. We work with numerous partners to
make our project a reality, chief among them local community organizations that have
intimate knowledge of communities on the ground and are able to identify local
champions and pilot sites (examples of partners include: Agha Khan Foundation (Aswan
and Cairo), Handover (Sinai and Giza), Nebny Foundation (Cairo), Komm il-Dikka (Fayoum),
Describe the scalability and innovation elements of your initiative
The two innovation elements in our initiative are the technology and the financial model.
We have tested the technology over previous year, and have been able to develop a flat
plate solar water heater that is significantly cheaper than others on the market. The
financial model makes it practically feasible for households to secure hot water, both from
a legal and financial perspective. By working through a ‘point person’ with legal rights over
rooftops (where heaters are installed) and financial ability to pay the full cost of the heater
upfront or within a year, we enable end-users to secure hot water in the form of a service
with monthly fees that are lower than the cost of alternative heating methods. The model
is scalable across most urban and semi-urban communities within Egypt.
Please state your innovation sponsor (if applicable)
What are your key resources at this stage and what resources would you need to implement/scale?
Shamsina’s key resources are its technology, its model and its vast network of community
partners. To operate beyond pilot stage, Shamsina needs financial resources for the
purpose of developing a mass manufacturable version of its heater and for manufacturing
at scale (1,000 heaters).
What are your key challenges and risks at this stage?
The key challenge at this point is spreading awareness of our model; we have done this in
the communities where we have piloted through information sessions, and are currently
conceptualizing ways to reach mass audiences.
What are your goals and timeline?
Goal 1: Funding and mass-manufacturable version of heater (December 2019); Goal 2:
Funding and mass-manufacture (March 2020); Goal 3: Pilot 100 heaters (April 2020); Goal
4: Mass sales, 900 water heaters (August 2020)
Why should this innovation be selected?
Shamsina is working to eradicate energy poverty by providing affordable, safe, practical
and clean energy solutions for those most in need. Shamsina solves an overlooked
challenge in the region and has transformative impact on the daily lives of millions who
struggle to secure hot water for basic needs.