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DRC solar startup, Nuru raises $40M to construct biggest mini-grid in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Nuru, a startup based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that focuses on solar energy, has successfully raised $40 million.

According to a report by TechCabal, the funding will be used to construct the largest mini-grid in sub-Saharan Africa, to provide continuous electricity to five million people in the country.

“However, this amount is still far from the $300 million needed to accomplish this ambitious objective,” the report noted.

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In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nuru, a startup specializing in alternative energy, has secured $40 million in equity funding for its Series B round.

The funding was led by various organizations including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), Proparco, E3 Capital, Voltalia, the Schmidt Family Foundation, GAIA Impact Fund, and the Joseph Family Foundation.

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The IFC’s equity investment also includes financing from the Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Program.

“Nuru aims to secure an additional $28 million in project finance by the end of July. AltRaise served as the exclusive financial advisor for Nuru during the Series B transaction and accompanying project finance.”

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The $40 million funding will be utilized to develop three mini-grids in various parts of eastern DRC, specifically in Goma, Kindu, and the largest in Bunia.

These mini-grids will have a combined generation capacity of 13.7 megawatts and will employ a combination of solar power and batteries.

Nuru, which means “light” in Swahili, already operates mini-grids in four other cities in eastern DRC.

“Despite having a population of approximately 100 million people, access to energy is limited to less than 20% of the population in DRC, particularly in the eastern regions,” noted the report.

The introduction of mini-grids offers an opportunity to leverage renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels for power generation in an area with minimal electrification.

Nuru’s utility-scale solar mini-grids are designed to provide reliable and renewable energy 24/7 to the communities where they are installed. This will contribute to enhancing climate resilience and promoting sustainable development, which are crucial needs for the country.

Founded as Kivu Green Energy in 2015 by Jonathan Shaw, an American born in Kenya, Nuru constructed the first mini-grid in the Congo in 2017. Three years later, it established a 1.3-megawatt facility in Goma, becoming the largest mini-grid in sub-Saharan Africa not connected to a national grid.

Jonathan Shaw expressed his enthusiasm about partnering with a dynamic group of investors who share Nuru’s vision of expanding energy access and transforming the lives of five million people in DRC.

He sees the successful completion of the Series B funding as, “A significant milestone for Nuru and a validation of the metro grid model in the distributed energy sector in Africa.”

Mr Shaw extends his sincere gratitude to the consortium of investors for their visionary support and unwavering commitment to Nuru’s mission, and he looks forward to continuing to bring light, drive economic growth, and empower communities across DRC.

In March, REPP, Proparco, and E3 Capital provided initial investments to bridge the financing gap in Nuru, strengthening the Series B equity fundraising with $500,000 each in a convertible note round.

During its Series A round in 2018, Nuru raised $3.8 million, led by E3 Capital (formerly Energy Access Ventures) and EDFI ElectriFI.

This investment played a pivotal role in establishing Nuru’s current portfolio of operating mini-grids in Goma, Beni, Tadu, and Faradje.

According to Bloomberg, Nuru is expected to initiate a Series C round worth $90 million later this year. This is as the company aims to raise $300 million to hit its target to serve five million people in DRC by September 24, 2024.

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech. Write to me @[email protected]

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