Genius Watter Chairman, Franco Traverso, has won the category “Lifetime Achievement of the year” of the Afsia Solar Awards 2021 for his 40 years of experience in the solar sector and his significant long-term contribution to the development of the African solar industry. 

Franco Traverso

40-year commitment for renewable Energy transition in Africa

Franco Traverso, Co-founder and Chairman of Genius Watter, is a pioneer of the photovoltaic sector. Since 1981, when he accepted the challenge of producing PV cells and panels, he has developed innovative solar-related projects and transferred his technical know-how to local African actors engaging local populations.

His support for advancing the use of solar energy in Africa starts with the realization of PV turnkey plants and water pumping installations in the 1980s. In 1983, in Burundi, he realized the highest PV pumping system in the world back then (height: 250m) that served 5000 people and avoided local long trips to collect water.

In 1986, he founded Kenital ltd, in Nairobi, a company selling and distributing PV kits and systems for energy and water pumping, which has lasted for more than 30 years.

Traverso distributed turnkey systems and thousands of PV mini kits that he invented for missions, particularly in the Turkana and Marsabit counties, in Kenya. He also designed and realized the first solar-powered and hybrid pumping systems in Kenya, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Mozambique in the ‘80s.

In 1992, Traverso founded Helios Power ltd, a JV in Johannesburg, which has produced solar panels and turnkey PV systems for South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, thanks to Traverso’s supply of raw materials and the transfer of his know-how and PV plant technology.

Today, in Genius Watter, Traverso works to meet the African water demand by realizing battery-free turnkey solar-powered desalination systems.

Spreading the innovation to local African actors

Traverso’s passion for engineering and PV combined with his drive for innovation in energy, water and refrigeration systems all powered by solar energy form the common thread of his entrepreneurial story during which he founded 7 joint ventures in 4 continents. He has always transferred his technical know-how to local partners in order to create local competencies.

In Africa, he has learned on-field the importance of involving local actors in the activities. He has personally trained local personnel to install PV systems and has involved the local communities in the plant construction works. In doing so, he has created local jobs by training local workers and engineers that have become quality producers and solar technicians.

A sustainable approach in the African solar industry

Traverso significantly favored the development of the photovoltaic energy market in the whole of Southern Africa, and he is still positively contributing to the African solar industry by designing sustainable solar solutions that answer not only to energy but also water needs.

With Genius Watter, he has realized innovative battery-free desalination solutions solely powered by PV energy, which supply water in remote rural areas in a totally sustainable way.

Besides having zero carbon footprint, these solar water projects are socially sustainable. Indeed, by transferring his technical know-how to local actors, Traverso has contributed to the creation of competencies and jobs. He has also supported the sustainable development of remote African communities, since sustainable energy and water available increase land productivity, favor the development of local economies and increase the community’s welfare and health.

Watch the video of the Ceremony here:

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