Teaching students in Africa how to build and maintain renewable electricity supplies, Open Energy Labs is an EdTech company with a purpose. Backed by the UK and Zambian governments, the business is raising on Crowdcube with the objective to develop its technology to deliver its programme to 110,000 students in Zambia.

  • £184,000 grant funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund
  • African e-learning market is worth £465m with 15.4% annual growth rate
  • Products sold to schools and technical colleges in Zambia
  • Backed by DFID and Zambian National Science and Technology Council


Recent research has shown that the electrification of Africa is being held back by a lack of local technical capacity to build and maintain renewable energy systems. But students can’t learn about electricity if they don’t have access to it. Therefore, educational institutions in Africa are forced to focus on theoretical learning, as they lack the resources to teach science effectively.

Open Energy Labs is developing an educational app and connected hardware kit which takes a “learn by making” approach to teaching students electronics, by building a renewable electricity supply, able to provide reliable power for lighting and mobile-phone charging. Our current technology is being used by Zambia’s two top technical colleges and we have MoUs under discussion with the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Energy to roll out to a further 3,000 students.

With the e-learning market in Africa set to be worth £1.8b by 2024 we’re initially targeting universities, technical colleges and high schools in Zambia. We will then look to expand into other markets with initial contacts in Kenya, Tanzania and Angola.

We have received over £184,000 from Innovate UK through the Global Challenges Research Fund and have previously raised £67,000 from backers such as Bethnal Green Ventures and Energy4Impact.

To develop our technology and roll out our programme across Zambia, we need you!


Samson Sahmland-Bowling - UK Director (Full time)

MEng from the University of Leeds. Samson has led energy projects in Zambia and Tanzania. He created the company's first product and leads our strategic direction.

Granville Wood - Zambia Director (Full time)

Diploma in Computer Systems Engineering. Granville has exhibited at international conferences with his robot built from recycled DVD motors. He leads our partnerships with the Zambian government.

Thomas Godfrey-Faussett - Learning Specialist (Full time)

Qualified teacher, BA in Physics from the University of Oxford. Previously the Director of Teaching & Learning at a school in Zambia.

Jack Armitage - Design Lead (Full time)

PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London. Jack has experience developing coding environments and leads the design of our learning platform.

Angus Thomson - Senior Electronic Engineer (Technical Advisor)

Previously an engineer at General Electric. Angus founded an engineering company delivering custom circuits and supports our engineering.

Zikambiyani Haanyika - Electronic Engineer (Full time)

BEng in Electrical Engineering. Zikambiyani is developing our hardware.

Jethro Mwanza - Product Owner (Full time)

BEng. in Mechanical Engineering. A graduate of Energy Makers Zambia, Jethro is developing our learning platform.