Local solar offshoot aims to bring reliable power to the provinces

Okra Solar’s mission is to give access to clean, affordable and reliable electricity to the 1.1 billion people in the world who still lack an adequate power supply. Its hardware and software helps provide electricity to villages that are not on the national grid. The company says it has given power to 2,500 people across 26 villages in four countries, including Cambodia. It works closely with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, including a project in three villages in Kampong Chhnang province. Okra is based in Sydney and was founded in 2016 by two young Australians but its local subsidiary was the only Cambodian company to make it onto Forbes Magazine’s ‘”100 to Watch in Asia” list this year. Sovannara Pha is the account manager of Okra Solar’s Cambodian arm. He has worked with various Cambodian solar companies including as distribution manager for NRG solar power businesss before joining Okra Solar three years ago. He spoke with Khmer Times reporter Michael Firn.

KT: Explain in layman’s terms what Okra Solar does in Cambodia

SP: Okra is an artificial intelligence and automation technology company. We build devices to manage consumption and sell devices to utility companies in Cambodia to install for their  business. It is not just about controlling solar [power] systems but also monitoring systems and billing. When people use energy, they want to know how much they have to pay so we put everything together onto one platform.

KT: What has been your biggest achievement over the past three years?

SP: In Cambodia our key success is that we are closely working with the Ministry of Mines and Energy. We are still working on a project [in Stung Chrov village in Kampong Chhnang province]. This makes Okra strive to be better because we try to make energy as cheaply as possible in towns and sell it to people. The government wants to provide reliable and cheap energy to remote areas because with better energy supply, they can create a lot of income.

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