ENTRY PLAN FOR A SOLAR PRODUCT MANUFACTURING COMPANY (Case: Suntrica Limited and Ghana)

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ABSTRACT

This thesis research concerns a fast growing solar product manufacturing companies’ passion to enter the renewable energy market in Ghana. Solar energy has been considered as one of the alternative sources of renewable energy in Ghana which can be relied upon in the provision of sustainable energy and electricity.

The main purpose of this research work was to understand the renewable energy business environment in Ghana and to develop a market entry plan for the case company Suntrica in selling its business-to-customer and business-to-business products in Ghana.

In fulfillment of the purpose, a qualitative research method was applied with emphasis on interviews. Data was collected from earlier studies relating to the subject matter in both printed and electronic formats, books, articles, journals, online sources, internet and a list of semi-structured interview questions.

The interviews were conducted with five different experts in the renewable energy business to enable the author to have a fair idea and understanding of the market to be entered. Four different entry plans were suggested to be considered by the case company in entering the market in the sequence of four separate time frames.

These entry strategies includes direct export and distribution channel design positioning, hypothetical parallel distribution strategy, direct export mode with emphasis on corporate social responsibilities and government cooperation, and joint venture business model.

Key words: Ghana, Entry plan, Market entry modes, renewable energy and distribution channels.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT
ABBREVIATIONS
1          INTRODUCTION
            1.1       Background
            1.2       Objectives, Research questions, Scope and Limitations
            1.3       Knowledge base of the research
            1.4       Research approach
            1.5       Qualitative Research Method
            1.6       Structure of the research report

2          INTERNATIONAL MARKETING STRATEGY
            2.1       Market Entry Modes
            2.1.1    Export Mode
            2.1.2    Licensing
            2.1.3    Franchising
            2.1.4    Contract Manufacturing
            2.1.5    Investment Entry Mode
            2.1.6    International Joint Venture
            2.1.7    Sales Agents
            2.2       Distribution Channels
            2.2.1    Distribution Channel Selection
            2.2.2    Analysis of Existing Distribution Channel in Ghana

3   RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ITS POTENTIAL IN GHANA
            3.1       Geothermal Energy
            3.2       Hydropower Energy
            3.3       Biogas Energy
            3.4       Biomass
            3.5       Wind Energy
            3.6       Solar Energy
            3.7       Renewable Energy Business in Ghana
            3.7.1    Renewable Energy, Targets and Policies in Ghana

4   GHANA AS A TARGET MARKET
            4.1       Brief History of Ghana
            4.2       PESTEL Analysis of Ghana
            4.2.1    Political Factors
            4.2.2    Economic Factors
            4.2.3    Socio-Cultural Factors
            4.2.4    Technological Factors
            4.2.5    Environmental Factors
            4.2.6    Legal Factors

5          CASE COMPANY ANALYSIS
            5.1       Brief History of Suntrica Limited
            5.2       The Marketing Mix
            5.3       Empirical Method for the Study

6   ENTRY PLAN FOR THE CASE COMPANY
            6.1       Direct Export and Distribution Channel Design Strategy
            6.2       Hypothetical Parallel Distribution Strategy
6.3       Direct Export Mode with emphasis on corporate social responsibilities and government co-operation
            6.4       Joint Venture Business Model

7          CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
            7.1       Main Findings
            7.2       Reliability and validity of the research
            7.3       Suggestions for future research

8          SUMMARY
REFERENCES
APPENDICES


1      INTRODUCTION

In this first chapter, the reader will be introduced to the subject. The background of this study will provide the reader with an overview in respect to the subject matter of this thesis research. This chapter will also serve as a solid base for the reader in assimilating the theories to be discussed in this piece of work. Finally, the structure of the entire thesis work will be presented in this chapter.


1.1      Background

The fluctuations in the prices of oil and gas and its scarcity in recent times have led to the discovery of renewable energy as an alternative source of energy in combating this shortfall. The linkage between the economic development of a nation and the energy sector cannot be under estimated. In recent times, majority of the commercial energy supplies of the world are enhanced by the use of fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels has its own inherent emissions affecting the livelihood of inhabitants in the natural environment. The projection for the future specifically for the year 2050 indicates that there is going to be an enormous increase in the demand of energy worldwide especially in developing countries including the Sub Saharan Africa. Renewable Energy can be said to be the main antidote in solving the energy crisis happening these days. This type of energy gives an excellent alternative to the traditional energy sources in the developing countries as a whole. In my own opinion, renewable energy is the future of electricity generation globally.

However, the concept of energy has become a very important ‘‘commodity’’ in the entire world today. Energy is considered as one of the important needs of a functioning society, community and the entire nation as a whole. The scale of its use is fundamentally associated with its capabilities and the quality of life the inhabitants’ experience. (Tester et al. 2005, 2.)


Renewable energy has become the core partner in order to improve the livelihood of about two billion inhabitants living mostly in rural communities. There is estimation also in recent times that about half a billion people are living in areas associated with unreliable access to energy.

The author of this thesis research is currently involved in the Connect network creation project in Lahti University of Applied Sciences. This project which is aimed at supporting the growth and internationalization of the Finnish Renewable Energy Small and Medium Size Enterprises to developing countries is a great welcome news. This project has really re-ignited the passion in the author to specifically conduct a thesis research on market entry focusing mainly on solar energy as a type of renewable energy. The current situation back home in Ghana is so pathetic in relation to electricity sources and the annual power rationing repeating itself all over the nation. The current pattern of energy use in Ghana is unsustainable not forgetting its environmental damaging effects. There is a vast energy market in Ghana regarding the annual sunshine all over the country which is yet to be fully harnessed. The author of this piece of work hails from a locality where majority of the people have no access to electricity and other forms of thermal powers existing in the entire country. For instance, people have to travel several kilometers to nearby cities in order to charge the batteries of their mobile communication devices whilst there is abundant of sun entirely left unharnessed.

The case company of this thesis research SUNTRICA Limited is the ‘‘messiah’’ in averting these happenings due to the fact that it is a fast expanding small and medium size enterprise on solar energy. The company’s expertise are in solar energy products and currently existing and very successful in 40 different markets including Africa. This thesis research work focuses on understanding the renewable energy market in Ghana and providing Suntrica Limited with a market entry plan in penetrating it in the near future.

According to 2010 estimates, approximately 3 billion people worldwide rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and about 20% of the world’s populations, 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity. (OECD/IEA 2010.) It is also observed that up to a billion more have access only to unreliable electricity network (UN-AGECC 2010).


In the African continent, according to Alliance for Rural Electrification elaboration of IEA data (ARE 2011), the overall amount of people without access to electricity has reached 589 million in 2008, with additional 9 million of people with no access to electricity yearly since 2002. It is also estimated in the United...

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