With a huge world market to address, a limited quantity of the batteries from these global brands get to reach Africa. Most of these OEMs do not have local offices in Africa, resulting in long delivery lead times, absence of local back-up and service support, and to some extent warranty issues as some products come on the market as grey imports from third parties. This has created the perfect platform for localization of battery production.
Three startups took on this challenge to disrupt the status quo and lead South Africa into the age of lithium-ion for stationary storage applications. Solar MD from Cape Town, Blue Nova based in Somerset West, and Freedomwon from Johannesburg. The firms import lithium iron phosphate prismatic cells and LiFeYPO4 cells from Chinese manufactures like CALB and Winston (Thundersky). These are then assembled into battery packs in South Africa. The startups have since developed their own proprietary Battery Management Systems (BMS) as well as their own Energy Management Systems (EMS). This approach gives them the flexibility to build battery packs more suitable to local conditions as well as sizing the packs to suit local customer usage profiles.
These are ideal solutions for South Africa but a great pity that they use proprietary technology, unlike Victron Energy who open sources much of their technology. I feel more comfortable with open source in case the supplier goes out of business, I can understand how it works and tweak it if I have the knowledge, I can benefit from the broader community who are publishing tweaks or integrations with other home automation solutions.
Just like many EV brands blame the slow ramp-up of EV production on battery supply constraints, lithium-ion home batteries have not been produced in large volumes. With a huge world market to address, a limited quantity of the batteries from these global brands get to reach Africa.