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In two words, what keep entrepreneurs going?

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As budding, and even established entrepreneurs, it is very important to have that thing which keeps you going. Which no matter the challenges you face, it’ll be an advantage as you overcome obstacles. It could be anything, and it could be everything.

Different strokes for different folks, as we speak to entrepreneurs who are great in their own rights. In two words, they were asked to state that thing which keeps them going. It is not to say that every budding or aspiring entrepreneur must have the exact same thing, but it is to say that if you need what to push you, know where to look.

Speaking with Sanusi Ismail, founder of colab, the first Coworking space and incubator in Kaduna. Where he championed the forming of a tech ecosystem even in the whole northern part, he did tell us that God, and Grit were two important factors that kept him going. At the one year anniversary of Farmcrowdy, Jimoh Maiyegun who serves as the company’s Chief Technical Officer emphasized the importance, saying, “a lot of prayers went into the company” at its early stages. So. God. Grit.

In the same vein, while we interviewed Raymond Umeh, founder Skarabrand, an online furniture company, he thought in the same line too. For him, Grit and Patience kept him going till this point. Grit again, right? I believe one very important trait of an entrepreneur is his courage, which explains why grit keep showing its head always. And patience, is a virtue too.

For Joshua Chibueze, who co-founded SharpHire, feedback from users across their 3 products does it for him. Basically, when you receive positive feedback, you get assured that you are on the right track, yeah?

So, entrepreneurs, in two words, what are the things that keep you going?

Execution Point Limited Gets CMA Approval as First Online Foreign Exchange Broker in Kenya

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UK’s Execution Point Limited has been approved and granted an operating license by Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority as the country’s first Online Foreign Exchange Broker.

The firm has been issued with a non-dealing online foreign exchange broker license therefore it will act as a marketplace connecting clients to licensed foreign exchange buyers and sellers in return for a commission.

As a non-dealing Online Forex Broker, Execution Point Limited will connect clients to sellers or buyers online or via mobile devices locally or internationally. It can’t trade or offer advice on what to buy or sell. All execution is done by clients and traders and Execution Point lets the speculation of one currency price against another currency to the discretion of the traders.

E-commerce firm Copia Global sets up a new distribution hub in Nairobi to run thousands of deliveries a day

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Copia Global, a direct to end consumer e-commerce enabled shopping service has set up a new central distribution centre at warehousing facilities firm Africa Logistics Properties in a move that will enable it run thousands of deliveries a day.

According to Tim Steel, CEO of Copia Global, “Copia provides a unique direct to end consumer e-commerce enabled shopping service, bringing choice, convenience and opportunity to rural and peri-urban customers across Kenya. This involves a complex and challenging supply chain. We are very excited to be relocating our fulfilment centre operation to ALP North Logistics Park. The facility is ideally located for us and our suppliers and perfectly suited for us to reliably meet the day definite delivery needs of our customers. It will allow us to continue our rapid growth in using e-commerce to supply FMCG, construction and farming inputs more effectively and efficiently directly to previously underserved communities.”

Copia Global has signed a long term lease for nearly 4,500 sqm of ALP North Logistics Warehousing Complex to benefit from the highest pallet densities in the market and therefore the lowest pallet storage costs per square metre. Copia will be able to run thousands of deliveries a day from the e-commerce company’s new central distribution centre to its agent network across the regions.

“E-commerce requires distribution efficiencies, rapid access, ease of entry and exit, and modern logistics software, to achieve truly efficient warehouse management,” said Toby Selman CEO of ALP.

ALP, rents its modern warehouse units to occupiers on long term leases, has already leased 14,000 sqm of its Phase 1 warehousing to Freight Forwarders. The Phase 1 warehousing will be complete for occupation in September 2018. 

“Copia has a fast growing business model serving the rural regions of Kenya with FMCG products. By operating from Nairobi’s first grade-A logistics distribution complex, it will gain significant competitive advantage, benefitting from lower supply chain costs per pallet, and ultimately benefitting Kenyan consumers,” said Toby Selman.

The need for sophisticated warehousing and logistics facilities is key for e-commerce operations.

 

 

OLX closes Kenya & Nigeria offices, says marketplace to continue operations uninterrupted

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Naspers-backed OLX is trimming its headcount in Nigeria and Kenya as it moves to turn profitable this year.

Speaking to TechMoran, Peter Ndiangui, OLX Kenya country manager said, “We made a difficult but important decision in Kenya and Nigeria to consolidate our operations between some of our offices internationally.

“Our marketplace will continue to operate in Kenya and Nigeria – uninterrupted – as it has since 2010. We remain committed to the millions of Kenyans who use our platform to buy and sell every month. We continue to be focused on constantly innovating to make sure that OLX remains the top classifieds platform Kenya.”

The OLX Kenya platform will run but will be operated by 3 hubs internationally which will impact the Kenyan staff. These changes are specific to Kenya and Nigeria.

“This is a business decision, carefully thought to enable us to continue to provide the best services to our customers in the country. This is entirely a business decision carefully thought to enable us to continue to provide the best services to our customers in the country,” said Ndiangui.

OLX wants its customers to know the marketplace will continue to operate in Kenya and Nigeria – uninterrupted – as it has since 2010, and there will be no changes to its customers, who will continue to have the best service available.

By being remotely run, OLX hasn’t confirmed how the affected employees in the various departments will be helped to ensure a smooth transition from their jobs. OLX’s top leadership is highly likely to be retained and to join the firm’s new hub in Johannesburg.  There is a likelihood that the firm will be reducing its investments in customer acquisition and awareness.

Recently Jumia Rwanda announced a shift to a fully B2C marketplace after the online e-store platform proved to be costly to run. Nigeria’s classifieds platform Efiritin shut operations too sometime last year.

BBOXX & Bamboo Capital Partners launch BEAM, a $50m fund to invest into off-grid energy firms in Africa

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Bamboo Capital Partners, a private equity firm delivering positive social and financial value, and BBOXX, a next generation utility have launched BEAM to initially deploy USD$50 million in equity for distributed energy service companies (DESCOs) and will unlock further debt capital in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

BEAM starts with a first equity investment in BBOXX and its data-driven DESCOs, providing off-grid energy to consumers in Africa and Asia, to scale and generate greater impact in their respective markets. In addition to the equity capital from BEAM, the investment platform will catalyse further capital through debt, joint ventures and co-investments.

According to Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, Founder at Bamboo Capital Partners, “BEAM will catalyse substantial investment into off-grid energy access initiatives across the developing world. By drawing in and encouraging further capital via joint ventures, debt and co-investments, we have a bold and ambitious vision of providing millions more with access to energy to improve their everyday lives.

With some 1.1 billion people across the world without access to reliable energy, BEAM aims to play an instrumental role in delivering energy services to transform lives in the developing world. BEAM aims to aid the growth of an array of off-grid energy service companies, spanning solar home systems, large solar, and metering applications such as pumps and mini-grids.

BEAM will initially focus on ten countries then scale across continents. Partnering through BEAM will enable distributed energy service companies to benefit from BBOXX’s data-driven smart technology to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer service.

This includes Pulse, a cloud-based task management platform, which enables distributed businesses to improve efficiency. Pulse digitalises a business’ entire sales and service management, automating tasks for sales agents, technicians, call centres and its supply chain. For example, Pulse uses product monitoring to predict failure and allow the operational team to proactively support customers, automatically schedules field staff tasks, and understands what type of customer is most likely to default.

Mansoor Hamayun, Chief Executive Officer of BBOXX said, “BEAM solves two key market failures to scale DESCOs across the developing world – firstly, access to equity before debt becomes viable, and secondly it allows to drive disaggregation in what has been a vertical integrated model – both essential to scale.

BBOX says BEAM will allow it to take its successful model in Rwanda and Kenya and expand it across Africa and Asia by solving a key financial challenge.

Renewables crowdfunding can assist “unplugged” Africa

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By Simon Collings

Crowdfunding is playing a critical role in energising the African continent and it’s been a subject of increasing interest in recent years. Crowdfunding for energy access initiatives is still at an early stage, and is often poorly understood. The amounts of money being raised currently are small compared to the overall financing needs of the sector. However, the crowd can potentially play an important role alongside other types of financing.

Over the last three years, Energy 4 Impact has been researching crowdfunding by energy access ventures, with funding from UKaid. According to our analysis, in 2016, energy access focused projects and businesses globally raised $8.7 million through crowdfunding. Although this was an impressive 156% increase from the previous year, the amount is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions of euros the UN estimates Africa alone needs to achieve universal access to modern energy. Yet, Energy 4 Impact’s Crowd Power programme’s reports reveal the crowd can play a catalytic role in bringing sustainable energy to all.

Despite small numbers, crowdfunding can and is helping to solve Africa’s energy access challenge, mainly through supporting start-ups and early stage energy access firms. The crowd provides vital capital needed by these ventures to grow to a point where they can begin to access more conventional sources of funding. This is where the crowd plays a catalytic role. The M-Kopa story is well known in our sector, but we need many more ‘M-Kopas’. The crowd is helping to support the emergence of a broader array off market actors, a critical development needed to address energy access demand.

In two reports entitled “Mapping the market for energy access” and “Can the crowd close the financing gap?”, available on Energy 4 Impact’s publications page, Crowd Power explores the role that energy access crowdfunding plays in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia while providing advice for social enterprises and non-profits looking to raise funds. The reports analyse crowdfunding trends through different platforms and illustrate that energy access crowdfunding is best suited in assisting start-ups and smaller energy access firms.

Crowd Power has already been doing some important work in these areas. So far the initiative has supported 100 campaigns on ten different platforms – including Kiva, Bettervest, Trine and Lendahand. These campaigns are all supported by UKaid match funding and have so far provided 240,000 beneficiaries with access to clean energy. The businesses and non-profits raising funds through these platforms work in 28 countries including Eritrea, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Energy 4 Impact has also helped set up the first UK crowdfunding platform where UK investors can lend to businesses providing off-grid energy access in Africa. Again this is with UKaid support, and the backing of Virgin Unite Foundation. Launched by two of Europe’s leading crowdfunding platforms, Lendahand and Ethex, Energise Africa is now enabling UK citizens to invest in businesses that install solar systems in homes in sub-Sahara Africa. The platform aims to raise GBP 20 million in the next three years, providing renewable energy solutions to more than 110,000 families and small businesses. In just 5 months, the platform has raised over GBP 1 million from UK investors.

Some of the initiatives supported under Crowd Power have been focused on an important aspect of energy access – productive use of energy to support economic development. Energise Africa will over the coming year diversify into offers which go beyond solar home systems to include productive use applications of solar PV in activities such as solar irrigation and food processing among others.

Energy 4 Impact is currently in the process of finalising its third Crowd Power report entitled “Crowd Power, Success & Failure – The Key to a Winning Campaign”. The report will offer crucial advice on how to develop a successful crowdfunding campaign. Two further reports are planned, one looking at the characteristics and motives of crowd investors in the energy access space, and a final report mapping changes in the sector over the three years of the project. These reports will be available in the next few months, so watch this space.

Simon Collings is Director of Learning and Innovation at Energy 4 Impact (www.energy4impact.org).

Nigeria’s Zinox Group acquires Naspers’-backed e-commerce firm Konga to take on Jumia across Africa

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Nigeria’s Zinox Group has acquired Naspers’-backed e-commerce firm Konga to take on Jumia across Africa.

Launched in July 2012, Konga.com has always wanted to become the engine of commerce and trade in Africa offering a platform for merchants to sell Phones, Computers, Clothing, Shoes, Home Appliances, Books, healthcare, Baby Products, personal care and much more.

Friends at Zinox Group said, “Our ambition is to up the tempo by revolutionizing e-commerce on the African continent, with Konga at the fore-front of this initiative. In addition to positioning the business on a path of profitability in the short term, our long term plans are focused around seeing Konga well established in other African capitals.”

Zinox is also expected to use Konga as a channel to drive its original devices such as laptops and phones to more markets in Africa and work with both online and offline merchants as pick-up and drop-off points. These is huge for Zinox as Konga already has shoppers and merchants using the platform around the clock.

Konga will also get the new capital injection it needed to take on Jumia across Africa especially in Key markets like Kenya, Ghana, North Africa among others.

The deal, already approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will see Zinox restore its former glory as the pioneer of the eCommerce industry twelve years ago with BuyRightAfrica.com, a platform which was too early for the market and died quickly.

The acquisition also gives Zinox, KOS-Express, Konga’s logistics business and KongaPay, its payment platform. KongaPay is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria and has over 100,000 subscribers.

Zinox Group is said to have been in discussions with Naspers and AB Kinnevik for several months. Konga has raised over $25m from both investors.

Kenya’s SolarFreeze wins $50K in cash & services for its solar-powered cold storage units

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SolarFreeze, a Nairobi-based firm has been recognized as the best energy access startup at the just concluded RES-EXPO conference “Renewable Energy in East-Africa: New Frontiers” organised by RES4Africa in Nairobi.

Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa (RES4Africa) is an association that promotes the deployment of large scale and decentralised renewable energy in Sub-Saharan African countries to meet local energy needs for growth.

SolarFreeze was selected for its solar-powered cold storage unit systems that provide refrigeration services to smallholder farmers and traders with no need for grid connection.

“Almost 600 million people are lacking access to electricity in Africa. Solving energy issues through entrepreneurship and technology is therefore a critical agenda point at Seedstars where we aim to find real solutions to real problems. Seedstars is glad to have Enel onboard to help support some of the greatest entrepreneurs, disruptors and innovators in this space.” said Alisee de Tonnac, CEO at Seedstars.

Following the award, SolarFreeze will enter a three-month programme worth approximately 50,000 US dollars in acceleration services and cash funded by Seedstars.

Enel and Seedstars engaged the small-scale entrepreneurs who are providing innovative energy solutions focused on electric mobility, storage, distributed generation and energy efficiency, thereby tackling UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG7 – ensuring affordable and clean energy for all.

The agreement established the Africa Energy Track challenge aimed at identifying innovative startups in the field of electricity access in Africa within the framework of the Seedstars World startup competition.

 

BBOXX launches Pulse, a predictive task management platform for distributed energy businesses

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BBOXX, a next generation utility, has today launched Pulse, a cloud-based task management platform to help distributed businesses to improve efficiency and enhance their customer service.

The firm says Pulse will help distributed energy businesses in developing countries manage customers, products and employees dispersed across a range of remote locations in a  move that will see them prioritise resources and scale effectively.

According to Mansoor Hamayun, Chief Executive Officer of BBOXX, “Pulse is the heartbeat of distributed businesses and combines our years of market expertise into a single platform.

“The rapid growth of our business highlighted the need for efficient task management. Distributed businesses often struggle with monitoring customers’ products and needs, along with the activity of its workforce. This hampers efficiency and forms a barrier to business expansion. We need to manage products within a distribution mix; Pulse supports a range of energy products and is already being used by BBOXX partners in Nigeria and Pakistan.

Pulse gamifies and digitalises a business’ entire sales and service management, automating tasks for sales agents, technicians, call centres and its supply chain. Through its cloud-based infrastructure, Pulse embraces big data, allowing a business to have an accurate picture of performance quickly and uses machine learning to enable predictive analytics. For example, Pulse uses product monitoring to predict failure and allow the operational team to proactively support customers, automatically schedules field staff tasks, and understands what type of customer is most likely to default.

Pulse is already making an impact within BBOXX itself. In 2017 alone, Pulse automated 14,000 actions daily for the BBOXX staff in Kenya and Rwanda, managing sales leads, supply chain deliveries, call centre and repair actions.

Pulse has further processed over one million payments in 2017, and enabled management of $50 million in customer contract value.

“In addition to the solar home system sector, Pulse allows distributed energy service companies (DESCOs) operating across the distribution mix to optimise their businesses, automate their processes and scale quickly and effectively,” said Marcus Heal, Chief Executive Officer of PAS BBOXX.

BBOXX aims to extend the functionality of Pulse in 2018 and sign up other distributors to Pulse to support their operations.

Pawame named semi-finalist for M.I.Ts Innovate for Refugees Competition

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Off-grid solar company Pawame has been selected as a semi-finalist for the Innovate for Refugees Competition organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum – Pan-Arab Region for generating affordable, clean and safe energy to the residents of Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya.

According to Majd Chaaya, Pawame’s Chief Technology Officer, “The plight of refugees is one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian challenges, particularly in Africa. At Pawame we have assembled a strong team of skilled and knowledgeable innovators who are deploying technology that meaningfully improves and even transforms life for refugees in Kakuma.”

The MIT-sponsored competition attracts the best tech-driven solutions addressing the refugee crisis and rewards innovative concepts from across the globe that alleviate life-threatening challenges faced by displaced millions.

Pawame is working in partnership with non-profit REFUNITE which unites family members separated in conflict situations, to enable a free and offline Bluetooth enabled mesh communication network throughout the refugee camp.

The firm is also seeking to raise $250,000, create 50 jobs and better the lives of over 5000 people by the end of 2018 to drive electrification and connectivity in Kakuma through the distribution of its solar home system on an 18 month pay-as-you-go/rent-to-own model with affordable daily payments of $0.50.

In addition to being a charging solution that supports the use of smartphones, the solar home systems will also provide the conventional benefits of nighttime lighting (up to four lights), as well as appliances such as radio and TV.

“We are proud to be leading this effort in Kenya to provide mobile penetration and clean and affordable energy to such underserved markets,” said Pawame CEO Maurice Parets adding that this model of decentralized energy and communication can be easily replicated in refugee camps the world over.

Pawame will also showcase innovation across business models for connecting refugees, humanitarian cash transfers and the potential for mobile-enabled utility solutions to expand into disaster-affected areas at the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress set to hold in Barcelona in March this year.

Off Grid Electric Secures $55 Million Series D Funding Led by Helios to Expand Footprint in Africa

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Off Grid Electric – a leading rooftop solar provider in Africa has secured $55 million in Series D funding led by Helios with support from GE Ventures and existing investors to expand across Africa.

Off Grid Electric and EDF will expand their partnership in West Africa by offering off-grid solar solutions to households in Ghana and support its continued expansion and new product development. The firm currently provides power to more than 150,000 homes and businesses across Tanzania, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana under its consumer brand Zola.

According to Bill Lenihan, President, Off Grid Electric.,“We are excited to work closely with Helios and GE Ventures to accelerate our next stage of growth. They join a roster of strategic and capital partners that is already the strongest in the industry, including Tesla, Total, EDF, DBL Partners, Zouk Capital, Vulcan Capital, and Omidyar Network.” 

Off Grid Electric and EDF first partnered for a joint venture in Côte d’Ivoire in November 2016. The two aims to expand their market leadership in Côte d’Ivoire and create thousands of new jobs ranging from call-center employees to sales managers to technicians.

Building on their success in Côte d’Ivoire, where the company already has over 10,000 customers, Off Grid Electric and EDF are expanding their partnership to Ghana. Both companies will operate and share financial risks.

The Ghanaian company CH Group will join Off Grid Electric and EDF, and hold a 20% share in the partnership.

“For us, the sale of 10,000 off-grid kits in Côte d’Ivoire within the space of just a few months is living proof of the appeal and efficiency offered by off-grid solutions. We are delighted to be entering the Ghana market with Off Grid Electric and are already putting together innovative new off-grid solutions to support the energy transition in Africa,” said Marianne Laigneau, Group Senior Executive Vice-President at EDF in charge of the International Division.

Off Grid Electric’s investors include: Tesla, Vulcan Capital, DBL Partners, Helios Investment Partners, EDF, Total, and GE Ventures. Off Grid Electric is the recipient of the 2016 UN Momentum for Change Award, Zayed Future Energy Prize, and the 2015 Global Cleantech 100.

The investment aim to help the two firms reach the more than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity, and those who do have electricity are often plagued by an unreliable grid.

TPG Growth acquires Trace.tv for an undisclosed amount

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TPG Growth has acquired a majority stake in Trace.tv, an afro-urban music and entertainment alongside Evolution Media and Satya Capital in a deal that will see MTG, an earlier investor in TRACE, and Trace founders sell their stakes in the company.

“By partnering with TPG Growth, a global investor known for its ability to grow and scale businesses, we are well-positioned to build on our success and accelerate our transformation into the leading global afro-urban digital entertainment group. We will leverage our unique assets and TPG Growth’s deep experience with groundbreaking entertainment and technology businesses to launch “Episode 2” of TRACE,” said Olivier Laouchez, co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of TRACE.

Founded in 2003, TRACE is multi-platform media and entertainment firm with an audience of 200m viewers and listeners across 160 countries. TRACE owns and operates 30 digital and mobile services, 21 pay TV channels, and seven FM radio stations. The platform hosts more than 400 concerts, web simulcasts with 360 degree immersive technology, talent search competitions and events across the globe each year.

Select initiatives include TRACE Play, a subscription-based streaming service offering live TV, radio, and on-demand programs via desktop, mobile and connected platforms such as Roku and Amazon Fire.

TRACE Mobile, a South African MVNO serving over 2 million consumers. TRACE Naija for Nigerian customers, TRACE Mziki, a top music channel in East Africa, TRACE Toca for Afro-Lusophone fans, TRACE Africa, a music channel for Francophone Western Africa and TRACE Urban, the second most watched music channel in France.

TPG Growth’s investments include Spotify, Airbnb, Vice Media, Creative Artists Agency, Cirque du Soleil, and Uber.

“The African music and entertainment industry is dynamic and has experienced huge growth in the last decade, driven by the booming youth population and rapid adoption of digital technology,” said Yemi Lalude, Managing Partner at TPG Africa. “As smartphone penetration on the African continent continues to rise, the way young people consume content is migrating to mobile and digital. We are very excited to help grow the TRACE brand not only in Africa but worldwide.”

In Africa, TPG Growth has invested into Gro Intelligence, a global agricultural data business, Frontier Car Group, which supports Nigeria’s second-car sales business Cars45.com and Ecoles Yassamine, a Moroccan private school network.

 

ENGIE acquires Afric Power & Tieri to accelerate its expansion in energy services in West & Central Africa

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ENGIE has acquired Afric Power and Tieri, two companies specialising in energy services in West Africa to quickly expand and become one of the leaders in energy services in West and Central Africa.

The two firms specialize in the design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems and automated control mechanisms in West Africa and are based in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

According to Philippe Miquel, Regional Manager of ENGIE West and Central Africa,“Afric Power and Tieri have both made their mark in the region and built up a diverse customer portfolio by focusing on quality, proximity and innovation. We fully share these values and are convinced that this solid foundation combined with ENGIE’s expertise, financial clout and international credentials will enable us to quickly establish the integrated energy service provider the region needs.”

Afric Power and Tieri are complementary companies offering a comprehensive service including system design, the assembly of electrical cabinets and automated control mechanisms, and the installation, maintenance and warranty coverage of equipment. The companies have forged strong partnerships with customers operating in many sectors, such as agro-industry, agri-food, mines, large-scale services and data centres.

ENGIE’s activities in West and Central Africa are focused on centralised energy generation, mini-grids and individual solar kits. The firm recently commissioned the 30 MW Santhiou Mekhe solar photovoltaic plant in Senegal, was awarded the energy and systems component of the Dakar Regional Express Train (TER) project and commissioned the Soubré hydroelectric dam (275 MW) in Côte d’Ivoire.

ENGIE will capitalise on this acquisition to set up a regional platform with a view to offering energy services (installation and maintenance) to commercial and industrial customers, both private and public.

Mobisol Tanzania partners Phenix Recycling to tackle the e-waste problem in the off-grid industry

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Mobisol is partnering with Tanzania’s Phenix Recycling to safely dispose of expired electronic parts in over 75,000 Mobisol solar systems distributed in Tanzania to date.

According to Phenix Recycling’s founder, Athina Kyriakopoulou, “Responsible e-waste management is not only an environmental issue but also a business challenge to ensure the security of the industry and its continued growth. Companies like Mobisol are leading the pack by incorporating sustainable waste management as a core part of their strategy. We are excited to be able to enable companies like Mobisol to easily and reliably benefit from our network of responsible recyclers.”

Both companies will be present at the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo in Hong Kong this month, sharing their insights and aiming to engage further industry players to join their movement. It is estimated that, due to rapid sector growth, the volumes of off-grid solar products put on the market are expected to pass 10,000 tons by 2020.

Phenix Recycling is based was founded in 2016.

Last year, Mobisol launched its flagship store in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, aiming to bring affordable large high-quality solar systems to the country’s commercial capital. Mobisol has also already electrified over 500,000 people in East Africa through its sustainable solar solutions.

Mobisol launched in Tanzania in 2012 and has covered nearly all parts of mainland Tanzania with its services to date. Mobisol aims to complement the Government’s efforts to provide reliable energy access to all citizens by offering affordable solar solutions for households, businesses and institutions.

Husk Power Systems raises $20m from Shell, Swedfund, ENGIE to scale renewable mini-grid business in Africa and Asia

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Husk Power Systems, a rural distributed utility company operating mini-grids in Asia and Africa has raised $20 million equity investment led by Shell Technology Ventures with participation of Swedfund International and ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies to accelerate its growth to develop what the International Energy Agency estimates as a $190 billion mini-grid market leading up to 2030.

“Together with our strategic partners, we are now confident of achieving our vision of becoming the world’s largest rural utility company providing 24/7, 100 percent renewable and affordable power to drive inclusive and sustainable development in growth markets.“, said Manoj Sinha, CEO and co-founder of Husk Power Systems. “We believe that mini-grids are the most capital efficient way to help reach 100 percent national electrification goals“.

Established in 2008, Husk runs the world’s first hybrid powered mini-grid system that provides grid compatible 24/7 and highly reliable power to customers. The systems are scalable, grid compatible, and secure against theft from power generation to delivery.

The firm also designs, builds, owns and operates one of the world’s lowest-cost hybrid power plant and distribution network in India and Tanzania and developed a proprietary system by combining and synchronizing solar PV, biomass gasification system and batteries to deliver highly reliable, 24×7 power.

It offers customers a flexible “pay-as-you-go” energy service, using a mobile-enabled smart metering system. The funds will help it add over 300 mini-grids in India and Tanzania and deploy 15 MW of 100 percent renewable power plant assets that would eliminate 150,000 tons of CO2 per year (equivalent to eliminating 56 million liters of diesel per year). These mini-grids will serve over 100,000 customers.

Ford Motor To Invest $11 Billion In Electric Vehicles By 2022

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Ford Motor Company says it will increase its investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup. This announcement was made by Bill Ford, the Chairman of the company at the Detroit auto show.

Ford said that 40 electrified vehicles Ford plans for its global lineup by 2022, 16 will be fully electric and the rest will be plug-in hybrids.

Ford added: “We’re all in on this and we’re taking our mainstream vehicles, our most iconic vehicles, and we’re electrifying them. If we want to be successful with electrification, we have to do it with vehicles that are already popular.”

General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG have already outlined gigantic plans to expand their electric vehicle offerings.

Major automakers are reacting in part to pressure from regulators in China, Europe and California to slash carbon emissions from fossil fuels. They also are under pressure from Tesla Inc’s success in creating electric sedans and SUVs that inspire would-be owners to line up outside showrooms and flood the company with orders.

This race to make the electric car not be a stranger on the highway is gathering momentum and very soon fuel and diesel vehicles will be a thing of the past or gradually phased out.

Off-Grid Energy Firms in Africa to Receive $55M Investment from AfDB,  Nordic Development Fund Among Others

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Greenpeace and Tcktcktck volunteers raise a wind turbine on the beach at dawn in Durban, South Africa. To send a message of hope for the latest round of UN climate change talks opening here on Monday. Campaigners say Durban must be a new dawn for the international negotiations to agree a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty to avert climate chaos. They are demanding that politicians stop listening to the polluting corporations and listen to the people who want an end to our dependence on fossil fuels. Africa is on the front line of dangerous climate change, with millions already suffering the impacts through increased drought and extreme weather events, threatening lives and food security.

Over 600 million people are estimated to lack access to modern energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, this is set to change as off-grid energy firms in Africa are set to receive $55-million investment from AfDB,  Nordic Development Fund among other investors in a move expected to scale up access to clean electricity for off-grid households and crowding in local financial institutions as co-lenders.

To make this a reality, the African Development Bank’s Board approved a $30-million investment in the Facility for Energy Inclusion Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (“FEI OGEF”). This follows the approval of additional investments of US $10 million from Calvert Impact Capital (CIC), US $8.5 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and €6 million from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF). In addition, the NDF will provide a €0.5-million grant for technical assistance to support deal structuring and capacity development.

FEI OGEF is a US $100-million blended finance debt fund designed to provide loans in local and hard currencies to off-grid energy companies with the dual objectives The Fund directly supports the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and is part of its “High 5” priority to light up and power the continent, with an aspirational target of connecting 75 million households through off-grid energy access solutions by 2025. Through the use of clean energy instead of fossil fuels to power communities, the Fund is expected to result in the reduction of up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.

“FEI OGEF is the first Bank instrument that enables debt financing, including in local currency, to off-grid energy access companies who need growth capital to expand their operations across Africa. The strong collaboration demonstrates the power of partnerships for clean energy access in Africa,” said Astrid Manroth, Director, Transformative Energy Partnerships at the African Development Bank.

The Fund is a first mover matching local currency debt instruments with recent innovations in off-grid energy business models to scale up energy access for underserved and rural households. It provides a blended capital structure whereby investments in equity provides comfort and risk cushioning to attract early participation and additional investment by development finance institutions and other commercial investors.

“OGEF squarely fits within our investment mandate of leveraging public capital at scale to create systemic change in sectors and geographies that have been overlooked by mainstream capital markets. We are excited to work with the AfDB and the other investors to scale this facility and increase access to clean electricity for off-grid households in Africa,” said Jenn Pryce, President and CEO of Calvert Impact Capital.

The Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI) is the Bank’s flagship initiative for providing long-term finance to small-scale renewable energy access projects, of which FEI OGEF is one of the financing windows. FEI has been developed with grant support from the Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).

MoneyGram to Use Ripple’s XRP for Faster International Payments

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The global remittance market is a big business. In 2016, remitters sent nearly $600 billion in cross-border payments to help support family members living in their home countries or to settle transactions with business partners.

Money transfer companies allow people to send cross-border payments. Unfortunately, the current model requires money transfer companies to use pre-funded accounts across the globe to source liquidity for these payments. The process makes payments costly and slow, which causes headaches for both the companies and their customers.

In a move to allow their customers to send and complete cross-border payments quicker and cheaper, MoneyGram, a global money transfer firm has teamed up with Ripple’s XRP in their payment flows.

The deal will see MoneyGram solve the age-old liquidity issue most financial institutions face while saving time and money. Additionally, customers will have the ability to send funds real time, with transparency and certainty. The deal will MoneyGram access and use XRP, the native digital asset of the XRP Ledger, in their payment flows through xRapid, Ripple’s on-demand liquidity product.

By using xRapid, MoneyGram will enable its customers to do real-time foreign exchange (FX) settlement through XRP, which gives financial institutions the ability to unlock liquidity and access multiple corridors with one pre-funded originating account.

The firm will be able to send on-demand payments, reduce FX costs and fees, and customers will receive real-time insight into the status of their payments.

“Ripple is at the forefront of blockchain technology and we look forward to piloting xRapid,” said Alex Holmes, chief executive officer of MoneyGram, in a press release. “We’re hopeful it will increase efficiency and improve services to MoneyGram’s customers.”

Ripple is focused on fixing the inefficiencies and problems that exist in cross-border payments, regardless of whether those payments originate with a bank, corporate or another financial institution.

“The payments problem doesn’t just affect banks, it also affects companies like MoneyGram, which help people get money to the ones they care about,” said Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. “By using a digital asset like XRP that settles in three seconds or less, our clients can move money as quickly as information.”

Ripple is a Bitcoin rival.

 

Energy 4 Impact secures US$1 million to develop the small scale solar irrigation market in Rwanda

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The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has approved a US$1 million grant for Energy 4 Impact to develop the small scale solar irrigation market in Rwanda.

The project will initially target an estimated 3,000 smallholder farmers, organized into farmer groups and cooperatives, through the introduction of specialist financing facilities and other market development activities, such as product and technology awareness. Solar powered irrigation technologies are a renewable energy-based option and have been proven to be very effective.

The project will seek to support Rwanda’s smallholder farmers in adopting small scale solar irrigation, as well as working with local banks to implement financing schemes for farmers.

Currently, 63% of Rwandans live on incomes of less than $1.25 a day and half of the population has food access problems. While 79% are employed in agriculture, which accounts for 31% of the country’s GDP, only a tiny proportion of farmers have irrigation. This impacts prosperity. Depending on the crop mix, yield improvements from irrigation can increase a typical smallholder’s income by $200-300 a year. It also increases climate change resilience. Poor smallholders reliant on rain only are threatened by increasingly common droughts and dry spells.

Ben Good, CEO of Energy 4 Impact commented: “The lack of penetration of small scale solar irrigation is both a challenge and an opportunity. The development of the market is held back by farmers’ lack of awareness, non-affordability of the high upfront cost, minimal sales/distribution presence of suppliers and poor availability of agricultural finance. This project will seek to build a sustainable market by effectively addressing each of these stumbling blocks.”

The overall project objective is to support 13,000 farmers over five years with access to solar irrigation systems, resulting in improved productivity and increased income benefiting their family members representing 65,000 people. The Energy 4 Impact team has completed a detailed design of the project generously supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). This will now be implemented in three phases: 1) a three month project mobilization phase; 2) an initial implementation phase for two years, addressing the findings and recommendations of the design phase, targeting 3,000 farmers, of whom 50% will be women, and 3) a scale-up phase that will depend on the success and lessons of the previous phase, in which an additional 10,000 farmers will be targeted. Energy 4 Impact is currently seeking additional funding partners, both to complete the delivery of the initial implementation phase and for the scale-up phase.

The project will be implemented in Rwanda in over eight districts in the Eastern and Southern parts of the country. The districts include Bugesera, Kirehe, Nyagatare, Ngoma, and Gatsibo in the East; and Gisagara, Kamonyi and Muhanga in the South.

Solar Energy Firm Orb Energy Raises more than $15 Million to Further Expand Operations in Kenya  

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Orb Energy has raised more than $15 million USD in equity and debt to grow its in-house finance facility of rooftop solar for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in India and to further expand its Kenya operations.

The round was led by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) which provided $4 million USD in equity while the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) – the United States development finance institution provided a $10 million USD in long-term debt.

Funds will be used for growth of Orb’s unique in-house platform in India that provides finance to SMEs looking to reduce electricity costs through ownership of a rooftop solar system.

The new funding now positions Orb for profitable growth in the rooftop solar sector in India. Orb expects its 15MW in annual rooftop solar system sales in FY 17-18 to more than triple in the near future, growing to 50MW annually by FY 19-20.

Additionally, Orb successfully raised more than $1 million USD for Orb’s solar operations in Kenya. Pamiga, an investor in African finance institutions and small- to medium-sized enterprises, provided $500,000 in equity, and $550,000 came from DEG – Germany’s development finance institution – using funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (BMZ) Upscaling Programme. These funds will be used to further expand Orb’s residential and commercial solar business in Kenya, where Orb has sold more than 10,000 systems since 2014.

Orb has more than 150,000 systems sold in India since 2006. The firm is vertically integrated, manufacturing its own solar photovoltaic modules and solar water heating systems in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

“We are extremely pleased that FMO increased its equity position in Orb Energy, adding $4 million to its earlier investment of $2 million in 2015,” said Damian Miller, Orb’s Chief Executive Officer. “We see this as a vote of confidence in our unique approach to the solar market in India, which has allowed us to leverage a further $10 million from OPIC to expand our finance platform for SMEs looking to save money on their electricity bill with their own rooftop solar system.”

In India, rooftop solar systems offer commercial and industrial customers a three- to four-year payback without any subsidy But many cash-constrained SMEs in India cannot afford the up-front costs of solar without credit. Orb offers a finance facility to SMEs that matches their payback period, after which all their power is effectively free.

“We like the progress that the Orb team has made in the commercial and industrial rooftop space in India,” said Jurgen Rigterink, CEO of FMO. “Orb has demonstrated through its unique in-house finance facility and vertically integrated approach that profitable growth is possible in this fast moving, highly competitive segment of India’s solar market. We fully expect to see Orb emerge as one of the solar leaders of India in the years to come.”

Investors in Orb Energy include FMO (The Netherlands), Bamboo Capital Partners (Switzerland), Rianta Capital (Switzerland), Acumen Capital Market Funds I (USA), and Pamiga SA (Luxembourg).

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