AFC invests US$25 million in Egypt’s Carbon Holdings


 Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is set to invest US$25 million in Egyptian petrochemicals company Carbon Holdings Ltd to help it develop an integrated large scale petrochemicals platform in Egypt to take advantage of the country’s strategic geographic location along the Suez Canal.

In addition to AFC, the International Finance Corporation and Gulf Capital are providing capital to support the expansion of Carbon Holdings’ operations.

Andrew Alli, CEO of AFC, said: “AFC prioritises investing in projects and businesses that can make a tangible impact on the people, their communities and the economy, and we believe that key to the next chapter in Africa’s growth story is investing in companies such as Carbon Holdings which deliver industrial products across a broad reaching value chain.

AFC aims to support the establishment of a robust raw materials base and ultimately the development of Egypt’s manufacturing sector, delivering long term jobs to Egypt and helping to boost Africa’s overall economic growth.

By supporting the private sector to develop new industries, including manufacturing, to create high value-add jobs for Egyptians. AFC is proud to be able to support Carbon Holdings to expand its operations and drive local employment.

Basil El-Baz, Chairman and CEO, Carbon Holdings said: ” The addition of such a pre-eminent African institution is extremely important to Carbon Holdings and will further emphasise our strategic commitment to the industrial development of not only Egypt, but to our future industrial plans in Africa.”

AFC was formed to provide specific project structuring expertise and risk capital for large-scale infrastructure projects that are needed across Africa to develop economies.

The deal was arranged by Investbridge Capital, a Dubai-based privately-owned DFSA regulated independent provider of alternative asset management and corporate advisory services.

Subsidiary companies of Carbon Holdings include Oriental Petrochemicals Company, Egypt Hydrocarbon Corporation and Tahrir Petrochemicals Corporation.

In May Last year, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested $25m in Carbon Holdings Limited for construction of the Tahrir Petrochemical Complex scheduled to be completed by 2019 to reduce Egypt’s dependence on imported petrochemicals.


Azuri Technologies hits 100,000 sales of its PayGo solar home systems in sub Saharan Africa


UK-based Azuri Technologies , an off-grid solar company, has reached the milestone of 100,000 sales of its PayGo solar home systems in sub Saharan Africa.

Since first entering the market in 2011, Azuri has provided access to affordable, clean energy for off-grid communities across 12 countries.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Chief Executive of Azuri: “The milestone of 100,000 systems sold marks the next phase of Azuri’s journey.”

The milestone comes just weeks after the firm announced a $5 million debt facility provided by Standard Chartered Bank in February 2017 and the completion of an $11 million equity funding round in December 2016, to support Azuri’s sustainable economic growth across Africa.

Azuri is providing a reliable alternative to the grid for off-grid customers, delivering lighting, phone charging, radio and TV access in affordable packages paid for through mobile money.

The Azuri PayGo solar product range includes the first complete PayGo satellite TV package targeting households without electricity, launched in Kenya in December 2016 and solar lighting systems that incorporate the company’s award-winning HomeSmart technology which ensures households have light all night, even following cloudy weather.

In January 2017, the firm announced its move to provide power to 20,000 households in Nigeria after its completed funding rounds. With the cash, the firm expects to continue growing its presence in various markets in sub Saharan Africa and serve the millions of customers that still lack access to modern electrical services.

Jamie Vollbracht, Director, Cleantech at IP Group, a founder investor and major shareholder in Azuri, said: “These milestones reinforce the great strides Azuri is making in providing PayGo solar solutions for this rapidly growing market.  We expect that Azuri’s innovative approach and world-class team mean that many more significant milestones are to come as Azuri further expands, improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across Africa.”


AFC, Finnfund finance Rwanda’s 80 megawatt power project with $350m


AFC, Finnfund and several others are set to finance a $350 million  80 megawatt power project in Rwanda in a move expected to improve access to electricity for the three quarters of the country’s population that is currently off the grid.

The power plant, which is expected to increase installed capacity in Rwanda by 40%, will utilise the Country’s significant peat reserves to improve the national installed generation capacity. Despite its status as one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, only 25% of Rwanda’s population currently has access to reliable electricity.

According to Andrew Alli, CEO of AFC: “The move from costly external imports of fuel to more sustainable indigenous sources of energy such as peat will reap great rewards for Rwanda, not just in terms of the significant savings in foreign exchange hitherto used in importing expensive diesel oil for power generation, but also the positive economic and social benefits of providing more cost effective power for businesses and industries, as well as more affordable power for the people”. 

“AFC prioritises investing in projects that will have significant advantages for the local community, which this plant will. It will also make a huge contribution to powering Rwanda’s economic growth in the future, in line with the government’s objectives.”

 The plant is being constructed in the Mamba Sector of Gisagara District, one of the most remote areas in Rwanda, and is expected to be completed within three years

The Africa Finance Corporation is the Mandated Lead Arranger for the project debt, and has successfully arranged total senior debt facilities of US$245 million, contributing US$75 million in loans and providing an underwriting commitment of US$35 million.

 Finnfund, a Finnish Development Finance Company, served as the lead arranger for total mezzanine debt facilities of US$35 million for the project. The other lenders are Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank(TDB)African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank),  Export-Import Bank of India, and Rwanda Development Bank (BRD).

 The project is sponsored by Hakan Madencilik A.S – an energy company from Turkey, and Quantum Power – a power and energy infrastructure investment platform.  Themis Infra, an infrastructure development firm, is the Project Development Manager. 

Rwanda aims to provide 70% of its 12 million people with power from the grid or off-grid by 2018, and the country intends to become a lower middle-income country by 2020

European Commission to invest €300m to support renewable energy in Africa

The European Commission has invested  €300 million in funding in the African Union led Africa Renewable Energy Initiative for sustainable energy projects.

The €300 million is expected to leverage total investments amounting to €4.8 billion, adding 1.8 Gigawatts of new renewable energy generation in Africa.

 Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, announced the preparation of 19 new renewable energy projects, with a total potential investment of €4.8 billion.

 “With these 19 new projects, potentially worth €4.8 billion of investments, the European Union is delivering on its promises. We are turning our pledges into real projects with true impact on the ground. The EU hereby reaffirms its leading role in supporting the African continent in the promotion of renewable energies for the improvement of energy access for African citizens.” said Commissioner Mimica.This will contribute to the European Commission’s aim for 2020: to give 30 million more people access to sustainable energy, to save 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and to help generate 5 Gigawatts of new renewable energy in Africa.

This represents half of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative‘s overall target, as one of AREI’s key objectives is to generate 10 Gigawatt of new renewable energy in Africa by 2020, and to unlock Africa’s potential to generate as much as 300 Gigawatt from renewable energy by 2030.

The EU’s development funding towards sustainable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 2014-2020 amounts to approximately €2.7 billion.

The European Commission, the EU Member States and the EU Financial Institutions will support AREI through the Africa Investment Facility (AfIF), the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) and the future External Investment Plan.

HERWorld Energy Forum to address the gender gap in the energy & extractives sector


The 2nd HERWorld Energy Forum, a global think tank that seeks to address the gender gap in the energy and extractives sector is set for 8th March to mark the International Women’s Day.

Hosted by Women in Energy and Extractives Africa (WEX) alongside Pink Petro under the theme “The Next Era of Energy: Lean In, All In, Join In” the global forum brings together energy professionals who care about the future of the energy industry and are open to new perspectives.

#HERWORLD17’s main stage will be in Houston, Texas and will be livestreamed between the 15 different cities participating this year: Denver, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York, Anchorage, London, Florence, Aberdeen, The Hague, Dubai and Nairobi, Kenya which is serving as the hub for Africa.

“Kenya is honored to serve as the hub for Africa in this global event and recognize the challenges in the energy & extractive sectors must be analysed from a geo-political standpoint. HERWorld is imperative as we showcase women setting the pace in these sector. The energy challenges from a Sub-Saharan Africa(SSA) standpoint lie in its access, generation, production, management and distribution,” explained Lucky Ogutu Okudo, CEO and Founder, Women in Energy and Extractives Africa (WEX).

The Nairobi event will feature a wide range of speakers from the classroom to the C-Suite. The key speaker for the occasion is Eke Ugbaga Eke former Vice President and Group Managing Director of Schlumberger Oilfield Services, West Africa and CEO of the SpringRock Group as he shares his experience within the oil and gas industry over the last 25 years.

The event will feature panel discussions touching on topics around: Leaning into the Energy Transition and the NextGen Skillbuilding, the Fourth Industrial Revolution & Digital Transformation, Managing Career Transition & Attracting the NextGeneration and a Call to End the Gender Gap in the industry.           

A total of 23 speakers have been confirmed including Brian Muriuki (Country Head of SHELL), Susan Munyori (Local Content Tullow Oil), Jacinta Okwaro (UNWomen Extractive Advisor for East and Southern Africa) and Dr. Connie Martinon – Mumma – Total E&P.

The event further signifies the world’s belief in harnessing women’s power to drive change and the immense amount of potential they have to change the continent.

WEX Africa and Pink Petro will enable WEX Africa members to join and be a part of the Women Global Petroleum Club: Pink Petro for FREE.

Ayuni Systems to Launch Rent to Own ‘Pay as You Go’ Solar Program in Africa


Berlin-based AYUNI Systems, is set to launch new Solar Energy Rent to Own – Pay as You Go program to help provide reliable and affordable energy sources to millions of people in the Sub-Saharan African region.

The firm will take on M-Kopa Solar, dLight among others. According to Barton Shasha, Managing Director Ayuni Systems, “Pay As You Go” solar energy program will make clean and reliable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa more accessible than ever.

“The company is introducing solar lanterns and solar home systems that can be purchased on a rent to own basis.The goal is to supply affordable and reliable power to millions and change the way they live,” he added.

Fewer than 50 percent of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to energy for lighting, the spokesperson said, and those than do are often paying more than 30 percent of their income for energy and are forced to use fossil fuels.

The company will allow residents to lessen reliance on fuels while providing them with an affordable means of cleaner energy. The solar energy system is paid for with weekly installments and customers only pay for what they consume.

Over time, the system will be paid off and customers will be able to keep their system without additional payment or upgrade to a larger one. Schools and homes will be able to keep activities going into the night. Businesses will do more than save on energy; they will be able to keep longer hours and see improvements in the local economy.

The firm is set to set up a warehouse in Cameroon and help support local customers, and it hopes to raise 33,760 Euros through crowdfunding.

“These solar systems will give millions a chance to improve their lives,” the spokesperson said.

Azuri raises $5m to support renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa


Azuri Technologies Ltd. has raised $5m financing in debt from Standard Chartered Bank to support renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The loan facility will enable the manufacture of Azuri’s PayGo solar home systems for deployment in sub-Saharan Africa, where 600 million people live without access to a reliable power grid.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Chief Executive of Azuri: “As the PayGo industry matures, access to innovative debt finance mechanisms becomes an increasingly important part of being able to deliver continued market growth. We are delighted to have partnered with Standard Chartered Bank to deliver this innovative facility.

Access to debt finance is increasingly seen as a key enabler of the market’s continuing growth. This is the first facility of its type to date for the growing off-grid solar market, allowing stock of manufactured product to be built before being transferred to Azuri’s distribution partners in country. As such it eliminates the need for working capital to be tied up in stock prior to product shipping to partners.

The system allows users to pay for solar power on a pay-as-you-go basis, simply using their mobile phones.

Sean Hanafin, Head of Corporate Coverage, UK & European Sectors at Standard Chartered said: “This facility is aligned with our ‘Banking the Ecosystem’ strategy, deploying innovative solutions to finance clients’ ecosystems of international suppliers, distributors and customers, driving global trade and commerce.”

The revolving fund will support sustainable renewable energy access in sub-Saharan African countries and will help Azuri to leverage new and existing opportunities to accelerate its growth. Since 2011, the company has sold some 90,000 solar home systems, reaching approximately half a million people.

M-KOPA Solar named in the 2017 Global Cleantech 100 for the third time


M-KOPA Solar,  ‘pay-as-you-go’ energy provider to off grid homes in East Africa has been named in the 2017 Global Cleantech 100 for the third time for its efforts to solve clean technology challenges and make significant market impact within a 5-10 year timeframe.

“M-KOPA Solar has harnessed mobile and machine-to-machine technology to offer off grid homes affordable solar power. 450,000 homes and millions of people can access clean power, transformational products and services that were previously out of their reach. We are delighted to be listed alongside other global leaders in the clean energy space,” says Jesse Moore, CEO at M-KOPA.

M-KOPA Solar beat over 900 distinct companies from 77 countries to join the top 100. This list is collated by CTG with inputs from a global 86-person Expert Panel. To qualify, companies must be independent, for-profit and not listed on any major stock exchange.

Now in its 8th year, Cleantech Group 100 says this year, it sees more signals of the ongoing mainstreaming of clean technologies, sustainability, and resource efficiency on its journey towards the point where this is just the normal way business is done.

“From day one, the purpose of the Global Cleantech 100 program was to act as our barometric read on how the many facets that contribute to the emergence and maturing of an innovation theme, like cleantech, (the “doing of more with less”) are changing year on year,” says Richard Youngman, CEO, CTG (Cleantech Group).”

Uganda’s ReadyPay Power Hits 100,000 Users in Just 12 Months


Fenix International, which supplies ReadyPay Power in Uganda, pay-to-own solar systems launched in partnership with MTN, has reached 100,000 customers in Uganda, where over 80% of people lack access to electricity.

The firm says roughly 600,000 people in Ugandan households are now benefiting from the 1.2 million watts of solar installed across the country. The firm estimates that more than 200,000 dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps have been displaced by their product.

According to Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International: “Since we started selling ReadyPay on the pay-to-own model in 2014, we’ve seen exceptional demand. I’m incredibly proud of our team, who’ve worked hard to
reach last mile customers in this underserved market and relentlessly provide an exceptional customer experience.”

“Arriving at 100,000 customers showcases our fantastic growth record, but more importantly it represents more than 600,000 Ugandans who now have power and bright, safe light in their homes for the very first time. In addition, all of our off-grid customers build up a credit score, opening up new access to financial services and additional product upgrades.”

Hitting the 100,000 customer milestone brings the total of solar leases deployed by Fenix to over $20 million. In 2014, the firm celebrated its 10,000th customer using ReadyPay Power which allows customers to pay just $0.15 per day for the entry level product, with 36 months to complete payment for the entry level $160 solar home system.  After a customer makes a deposit over MTN Mobile Money, ReadyPay unlocks access to the battery.

Fenix International says customers have generated over 2.5 million mobile power payments so far. Fenix now aims to take ReadyPay and additional product lines to new African markets in the coming year.

Off-Grid solar solutions firm d.light raises $10.5 million led by Norfund to expand across Africa


 d.light, an affordable off-grid solar solutions firm has raised $10.5 million in funding to expand its operations and bring clean off-grid power to low-income families in Africa and Asia, using Pay-as-you-Go (PayGo) financing solutions.

The $10.5m comprise of $5 million in equity from new investor Norfund and $5.5 million in grant funding from Beyond the Grid and Shell Foundation.  The $5 million equity investment in d.light is done by the co-investment vehicle, KLP Norfund Investments. KLP is Norway’s largest pension fund manager and participates with funding in this vehicle.

Recently the firm raised $22.5 million Series D and $7.5 million debt funding rounds, bringing the firm’s funding to over $40 million in four months.

According to Mark Davis, Head of Clean Energy investments of Norfund,  “In countries where energy access is low for the vast majority, solar has the ability to impact people living there in a multitude of ways. We are proud to support d.light’s work to bring solar-powered solutions to rural households in these countries.”

d.light is a top provider of off-grid solar solutions and has commanding market share in emerging markets, with a focus on Africa and Asia. The company has impacted over 65 million people through its sales of more than 15 million solar light and power products in 62 countries. d.light continues to sell hundreds of thousands of units per month, while maintaining excellent quality at scale.

Since 2007, d.light has focused on raising the 2.3 billion people around the world without reliable access to electricity up the energy access ladder by giving them access to high-quality off-grid solar solutions. d.light is on track to empower 100 million lives by 2020 and is actively seeking partners to help the company achieve this goal.

“We are deeply grateful for the support of the investors in this latest funding round, which will help us empower more people in these regions,” said Ned Tozun, d.light CEO. “The demand for off-grid solar is taking off, and we’re now well prepared to meet the needs of customers who need our products the most.”

“We’re thankful to our investors for this support, which helps d.light accelerate development and distribution of our increasingly popular solar home systems and portable solar products,” said Kamal Lath, CFO of d.light. “By enabling us to build on our product offerings, this funding helps us empower people to improve their quality of life.”

 d.light manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products through five distribution hubs in East Africa, West Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and the United States, d.light has a goal of reaching 100 million lives with its products by 2020.

Trine is raising $3.7m to connect investors to profitable solar energy projects in Africa

© Emmy Jonsson
TRINE Team photo by© Emmy Jonsson

TRINE, a crowdfunding investment platform which helps investors locate and fund profitable solar energy projects in developing countries is raising 3,500,000 EUROS ($3.7m) to scale its operations in East Africa, in a move expected to  enable the spread of solar energy in the region and beyond.

Trine works with solar partners, who use the site to raise working capital from crowd-investors to be able to offer affordable and reliable solar energy to local communities. This helps to relieve the pressure of up-front costs, whilst encouraging people to abandon the traditional use of expensive and harmful fuels.

“We aim to bring solar energy to the 1.2 billion people in need of access to electricity and make it easy for people to make a social and environmental impact while also earning a return on their investment,” said Sam Manaberi, founder and CEO Trine. ”We had a seed round of 5 million SEK at the beginning of 2016. Our next major step, in terms of funding, is our A-round. We’re currently in the raising process, and we’re targeting around 3.5 million EUR to allow us to scale as planned.”

Sam added that Trine is fully focused on building its platform and scaling globally.

Backed by a significant advisory panel, including Palle Stenberg (Nudie Jeans), Lena Apler (Collector Bank), Niklas Adalberth (Klarna) and Lars Jacobsson (The Perfect World Foundation), the firm has funded eight projects and catalyzed €442 000 of crowd-investment in total.

“By 2021, the goal is to have funded 1000 projects and provided 66 million people with clean energy,” Manaberi added.

Launched in February 2016, Trine initially had an open mind about which regions to focus on, and rather let the most experienced entrepreneurs decide which markets were best for investment. However, as the year advanced, it turned out that East Africa, and in particular Kenya and Tanzania, were the thriving markets for solar energy in the off-grid space. These countries not only have positive regulation in place for solar energy, but also have the necessary mobile payment technology spread that is needed for PAYGO solar systems.

Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telco facilitated over $52 billion in value over its M-Pesa mobile money in the year through March 2015.

Trine adds that the market of energy access in general requires about EUR 21 billion annually until 2030 to eliminate energy poverty.

“Solar energy is already today one of the key solutions to rural off-grid electrification and is becoming more bankable each day. The price of solar shows this clearly, with a drop in cost of 60% over the last 5 years, which is projected to continue to drop,”Manaberi told TechMoran. “There is huge potential for off-grid solar to reach people who are not currently included in national plans for energy access. We are convinced that solving energy access requires a multifaceted approach, with different technical and financial solutions working towards dynamically towards the same goal.”

Solar partners pay a 5% arranger fee for successful funding of their project, and currently pays between 10-16% interest rate on a declining balance of the loan. Trine and the crowd-investors evenly split the expected returns. Trine says there are no hidden fees on using the platform.

And just super simple. Factors like the results from the due diligence process, risk level etc. all play a part in forming the loan agreement.

12191664_1060086184003028_6154772831494098322_nTo reduce risks associated with solar access projects, TRINE performs extensive due diligence processes on all solar partners before deciding to sign a loan agreement with them. It has developed an in-house risk tool and assessment framework focusing on the areas of technology, market, organisation and – most importantly – financials. This framework includes checking third party references, analyzing interim and audited accounts, debt-sizing adjusted to future cash flow, and back-end system access.

During the project duration, Trine does quarterly follow-ups, bi-annual checks on interim financials and weekly follow-ups on sales and payment progress while on future potential risk reduction, Trine is working on getting guarantees from the likes of UK Aid or SIDA – and commercial hedging – to protect the crowd’s investments from potential project default.

Contrary to popular belief that solar energy is only for off-grid customers, Trine says some people actually have both a grid connection and a solar system, due to the grid being unreliable. Most times a grid connection is too expensive for the people living in energy poverty.

The rural and peri-urban communities ability to pay upfront for the more sophisticated systems are not high enough – and thus a PAYGO model is needed to bring down the threshold for them. Trine makes sure that what the end-users pay compares fairly with the alternative options (e.g. kerosene).

Disputing the notion that PAYGO firms end up overcharging their customers, Manaberi says a profit margin of 20-30% is normal in a distribution business and companies must have a margin that ensure they can handle defaults in their portfolio (normally 5-10%).

”Pay as you go solar in Africa is an immature, high risk market, therefore margins must be a minimum of 20% in order to build a sustainable business and have a long term impact on energy access. One of TRINE’s long term aims is to reduce the risk of this market by providing companies with working capital, and therefore allow our solar partners to make their products more affordable and attractive for the end consumer,” Manaberi told TechMoran.

Sam Manaberi 9CEO) and Andreas Lehner (CTO)
Sam Manaberi (CEO) and Andreas Lehner (COO)

For Trine to achieve true sustainability, for itself and for Africa, Manaberi says the firm needs to keep building momentum and awareness around energy access as a serious issue. Its biggest challenge is ensuring that its project pipeline grows in parallel with a steady inflow of crowd-investors to meet the annual need of around EUR 21 billion in financing to eliminate energy poverty. He believes crowdfunding could cover a notable chunk of that funding as some platforms in the US have raised over USD 10 billion to-date.

Instead of leaving energy and other strategic public needs to governments in Africa and emerging markets, Trine, as a private solution, aim to leverage its resources to support this vision of a world with no energy poverty. The people the team has met have all shown strong interest and the right attitude.

For the next six months, Trine’s focus will continue to be on East Africa but towards the end of 2017, it might potentially look more towards West Africa again.

To send your friends or family some sunshine this Christmas. Trine has launched a TRINE Christmas voucher, which can be used to invest in one of its solar energy project, by going to You then just choose the amount (from €25 and up) and design your gift card to be sent digitally to the recipient or printed out. Once the recipient has activated the gift card through the unique voucher code (, the person can choose any available project on the platform to invest in.

Trine has solar energy projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,  Zambia and Senegal.

BBOXX solar home systems surpasses 100,000 units since its launch


BBOXX, The London based off-grid energy company has announced that it has distributed over 100,000 solar home systems across the developing world since 2010, providing access to affordable, clean energy to off-grid communities.

BBOXX’s systems have the capability to provide access to a wide range of appliances to improve the quality of life of its customers; from lighting and phone charging to TV’s and shavers. BBOXX’s latest systems (since 2014) come with SMART Solar; the ability to monitor performance of the system and provide superior customer service in over 160 countries around the world.

According to the firm, over 500,000 people around the world now have access to modern electricity in their home at 4.3 MW of Manufactured Energy Production Capacity or an equivalent to 4.3 Million BBOXX LED Light Bulbs with 17 MWH of potential energy storage. The firm also sees 387,600 data uploads from SMART Solar Kits every day and 1.5 Million hours of SMART Solar Kit usage recorded each day.

BBOXX designs, manufactures, distributes and finances innovative plug and play solar systems to improve access to energy across Africa and the developing world. More than 85,000 BBOXX products have been sold in more than 35 countries, improving the lives of more than 425,000 people.

BOXX aims to provide 20 million people with electricity by 2020 by providing individuals and families with home lighting to phone charging, as well as provide hundreds of jobs to local employees working in the SME sector such as hair salons, mobile phone repairs and chargers among others.

In August this year, BBOXX successfully closed a $20 million Series C investment led by co-investors MacKinnon, Bennett & Company (MKB), ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies and KawiSafi Ventures, as well as existing investors Khosla Impact Fund, Bamboo Finance and DOEN Foundation.

The firm said the investment would support its expansion its operations in Kenya and Rwanda where it owns and operates retail distribution networks and after sales service centres to guarantee an excellent customer service experience for all users as well as license its products and services in other markets, including the creation of three franchises in the West African countries of Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

This new milestone shows BBOXX’s continued growth to cover more markets with clean off-grid energy.


Kenya’s Illuminum Greenhouses Receives $10,000 for Winning Regional Ericsson Innovation Awards 2016


Kenya’s Illuminium Greenhouses has been named winner of the Ericsson Innovation award for sub-Saharan Africa for its smart greenhouse concept that uses sensors and mobile technology.

The team walks away with USD 10 000 and an entry into the Ericsson global Innovation Awards that takes place in early 2017.

According to Taita Ngetich, Co-founder of Illuminum Greenhouses: ”Our team is extremely proud to have won this award. It is a real boost to us and will enable the internet of things further penetrate and reach the base of pyramid farmers across the region. Water management is key to agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa and we are happy we can play a role in this by minimising wastage using solar-powered sensors”.

Illuminum Greenhouses have sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, soil moisture and most importantly regulate the water supply which is channeled through driplines and linked to the farmers mobile phone. They also self regulate the soil moisture by irrigating when necessary.

Data collected is pushed to a cloud system via SMS or GPRS and analyzed by the Illuminum Greenhouses team to provide predictive information on proper water management allowing farmers to save up to 60 percent of their water bills.

This year’s competition attracted 99 entries from thirteen countries across the region. The regional Ericsson Innovation Awards 2016 was an opportunity for start-ups and application developers to showcase solutions that will support the transformation of agriculture and food production across sub-Saharan Africa.

Aakaash Sehgal, Managing Director, Ericsson Kenya said: “We are once again proud as Ericsson to stimulate and reward ICT innovation in the region through the Ericsson Innovation Awards. It is also appropriate that the winning solution confronts the issue of water scarcity using cloud and mobile technology, cornerstones of Ericsson’s technology leadership.”

The judging panel had to pick a winning solution that could solve the problem in an innovative way, be sustainable and socially responsible as well as scalable. Despite the numerous exciting entries, Illuminum Greenhouses best met all of these criteria.

As devices and connectivity become increasingly ubiquitous, so do the opportunities for emerging technologies to resolve the challenges of agricultural production increase.  Solutions like this one demonstrate the potential of ICT to transform all sectors of the economy, in this case, it is agriculture.

Ericsson is one of the world’s largest ICT companies and its Innovation Awards for sub-Saharan Africa have provided a platform for regional innovation.


Pay-as-you-go solar firm Mobisol raises $16 million to deliver decentralized solar energy to East Africa


Mobisol GmbH, a pay-as-you-go solar energy service company delivering renewable energy solutions to off-grid communities in East Africa has raised about $16 million to accelerate its growth in Rwanda, Tanzania and expand its operations in Kenya.

The funding round was led by IFC’s equity investment of EUR 5.42 million and EUR 9.2 million from the AEF and MASSIF Dutch government funds in partnership with Investec Asset Management’s African Private Equity Fund and DEG.

“Our partnership with IFC and FMO, alongside Investec Asset Management marks an important milestone in the growth history of Mobisol. We are excited by the value such a reputable list of global investors stand to bring to Mobisol. We can now concentrate on scaling and even better serving our customers,” said Thomas Gottschalk, Founder and CEO of Mobisol.

Mobisol has already installed over 67,000 solar home systems in Rwanda and Tanzania, giving access to electricity and the use of efficient appliances to over 330,000 consumers. The system is paid off by customers over three years via mobile money. This innovative payment approach keeps the cost of an entry-level Mobisol system similar to what the typical customer spends on kerosene, candles, batteries, and mobile phone charging while offering superior value.

IFC see the investment in Mobisol as a reflection of its commitment to bridging the infrastructure gap and to mitigating climate change by delivering reliable, clean and affordable alternatives to fossil fuels for lower income households in Sub-Saharan Africa where approximately 600 million people lack access to electricity.

“The funds made available through the Access to Energy Fund (AEF) and MASSIF will support sustainable energy solutions and steady access to energy for low-income households. This will eventually boost economic development, which fits FMO’s main inspiration to manage these funds on behalf of the Dutch Government”, said Linda Broekhuizen, Chief Investment Officer at FMO.

Mobisol has designed modular solar home systems, a clean, safe and affordable alternative to fossil fuels for low-income African households. Designed specifically for the African market, the systems power lighting, radios, stereos and TVs, and other household appliances such as fridges as well as small businesses such as mobile phone charging, running barber shops or village cinemas.

GE Launches ‘Garages’ Advanced Manufacturing Program in Lagos, Nigeria


 General Electric recently launched the Lagos Garage, a hub for advanced manufacturing-based innovation, strategy development, idea generation and collaboration with plans to offer a year-round series of skills training programs focused on building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Participants will be trained to use the latest in advanced manufacturing technologies; 3D printers, CNC mills, and laser cutters in the first-ever fabrication lab in Nigeria, driving innovation in the country. They will also learn how to apply the core principles of design thinking, product development, finance, marketing, sales, and customer acquisition in real-time to their ventures.

‘Innovation and technology are fundamental for Africa to better compete in a global frame work” said President & CEO, GE Nigeria, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo. “Innovation needs to be tailored to the specificities of local needs. “GE is pleased to encourage innovation in Nigeria and support SME development through skills-building initiatives such as these.”

GE created the Garages experience in March 2012 to reinvigorate interest in invention, innovation, and manufacturing in America. Programs have included custom projects, curated speaker sessions and workshops amidst a fully equipped advanced manufacturing space. This program went global with two workshops in Lagos in 2014 and has since grown to include several countries in Europe and the Middle-East.

The popularity of the program led to GE’s decision to commission a permanent space for the training of young Nigerians in advanced manufacturing and business development. By assisting with the development of the advanced manufacturing ecosystem in Nigeria, GE hopes to create jobs, build local knowledge and capability, and encourage technology-based innovation in the manufacturing sector.

“GE is proud to launch the Lagos Garage, a hub that is dedicated to accelerating the impact of some of Nigeria’s most promising entrepreneurs. We have set up a learning environment that is different from the traditional. We are combining both the classroom and the real-world – providing hands-on training in advanced manufacturing” said Patricia Obozuwa, Director of Communications & Public Affairs for GE Africa. We’re looking forward to seeing great ideas that come to the GE Lagos Garage being transformed into practical business models that ultimately create more jobs in Nigeria.”

While on the program and upon graduation, The Lagos Garage will provide the participants access to a robust mentorship network, supporting entrepreneurship with the aim of driving growth across all sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Lumos Global, an off-grid solar firm operating in Nigeria raises $90 million


Lumos Global, an off-grid solar firm operating in Nigeria, has raised $90 million in fundraising, the industry’s largest investment ever positioning it to transform millions of lives in Africa and around the globe.

The investment was led by a $50 million of debt funding from Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and a total of $40 million of equity led by Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund (PRIF), the African infrastructure investor, and existing investors VLTCM and ICV.

Davidi Vortman, CEO of Lumos Global said:”We are proving on a daily basis that our systems have a unique ability to change lives. This major investment round shows the level of confidence that OPIC and PRIF have in Lumos Global’s ambition and impact.

“I believe that private sector-led solutions fuelled by development-oriented funders is critical to achieving one of humanity’s biggest social challenges:  providing access to energy to those who do not have it.”

Charting a course to transform the sector and millions of lives, Lumos Global will use the capital to grow in Nigeria and satisfy the high demand for its solar systems. It will be rolling out the service to homes, small businesses and community service centres such as hospitals, churches and mosques. Lumos will also seek to expand into other countries, building on its foundation in Nigeria.

Lumos Global’s innovative solar system provides affordable and accessible renewable electricity in communities that have limited or non-existent electricity access.

In partnership with MTN, Nigeria’s leading mobile phone operator, Lumos Global allows its customers to pay for the system as they go, obtaining electricity for less than 50 US cents a day, using mobile phone credit.

Elizabeth L. Littlefield, OPIC President and CEO said: “In Nigeria, only half the population is connected to the grid, and only 25 percent of the population has access to a regular supply of electricity. OPIC’s commitment and support is helping Lumos Global bring vision, innovation, and sound business sense to address Nigeria’s severe energy shortage.”Together, OPIC will advance the understanding that business can be a force for good and Lumos Global will provide reliable and affordable electricity solutions to thousands of households with limited or no access to electricity.”

With this record breaking investment, Lumos Global which trades as Nova Lumos, is demonstrating the growing business maturity of off-grid small business and residential solar systems.

“Lumos Global has established a strong track record in deploying the next generation of smart infrastructure in Africa, which is what PRIF is seeking to finance. We are thrilled with this new partnership and are looking forward to supporting Lumos Global in deploying solar systems across emerging markets in Africa and globally.” said Herc van Wyk, CEO of Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Managers.

Orange & ENGIE to install 1,000 solar kits in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire & Cameroon


Orange and ENGIE plan to deploy nearly 1,000 solar kits in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon to offer an alternative solution, at low cost, that can replace petroleum lamps, disposable batteries or diesel-powered devices, which are all potentially dangerous pollutants.

The kits include a solar panel connected to a battery that can be used to provide domestic appliances with electricity. They also contain a remote control solution and a mobile payment system, providing a decentralized source of renewable electricity to homes that are not connected to the grid. The solar kits can be used as a lighting solution with LED lamps, to operate small electrical appliances (radio, television, etc.) or to recharge mobile phones.

According to the deal ENGIE will supply the solar kits through BBOXX and Fenix International, both of which are companies that have worked with ENGIE for several years and that have become references in the supply of solar-powered equipment. ENGIE will also take responsibility for the installation and maintenance of the equipment.

Orange will ensure the commercial deployment and management of billing via “Orange Money”. The service will allow customers to pay rent for the use of the equipment, allowing them to pay by instalment rather than through an upfront investment. In addition, this mobile payment system offers customers a simple and secure way to pay remotely, thus avoiding the need to travel long distances with cash.

Access to energy is a major challenge for the African continent. Around 90% of the population of sub-Saharan rural Africa does not have access to the electricity grid. In this context, Orange and ENGIE signed an agreement in 2015 to collaborate on ways to develop the electrification of rural areas and to optimize the supply of electricity to telecoms infrastructure in Africa.

During the COP22 conference, Orange and ENGIE reaffirm their commitment to leveraging their technological expertise to stimulate sustainable progress and economic and social development on the African continent.

ENGIE has been present in Africa for over 50 years, where it operates in the fields of electricity, natural gas and services. ENGIE has a cumulated energy capacity of approximately 3,000MW across power plants in operation or under construction. ENGIE is also working on decentralized electricity production for isolated companies and rural villages in order to achieve the global goal of providing 20 million people with electricity by 2020.

Orange is present in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East where, at the end of September 2016, it had 113 million customers. The Group’s mobile money service, Orange Money, enables customers – including those who do not have a bank account – to use their mobile phone to easily carry out a wide range of financial services such as money transfers or the payment of bills. This service, which was first launched in Côte d’Ivoire in 2008, is now available in 16 countries and is used by over 20 million customers.

USAID Injects $4 Million into Solar Startups for African Off-Grid Energy


Eight companies that are revolutionizing household solar power across Africa have received $4 million in new investments through the Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development to create up to 120,000 additional connections in off-grid communities.

The Scaling Off-Grid Energy Enterprise Awards provide seed funding to solar start-ups to support geographic expansion throughout Africa, test new business models and tap into private and public financing.

The recipients will use the funds to expand home solar power solutions to existing and new African markets, improve payment and distribution processes, and bring down costs for customers.

According to Power Africa Coordinator Andrew M. Herscowitz, “The Grand Challenge for Development is designed to support innovators like these eight companies who are scaling up their inventions,” said Herscowitz. “The options for powering your home and business are changing, and these types of innovations will create opportunities to transform the power sector in homes across the planet.”

The 8 include;

  • Greenlight Planet (Nigeria,Uganda) is expanding sales of low-cost solar home solutions through state of the art pay-as-you-go technology and deep distribution networks.
  • d.light (Kenya) is developing and expanding on software, training materials, and a call center to support a direct distribution model.
  • Fenix (Zambia) is expanding energy access through its expandable solar solutions kits that include options to power phones, lights, radios, televisions, and other appliances.
  • Orb Energy (Kenya) is establishing partnerships with banks and microfinance institutions to finance consumer solar system purchases.
  • VITALITE (Zambia) is distributing pay-as-you-go solar home systems, televisions, solar lamps, and appliances for rural, off-grid communities.
  •  PEG Africa(Ghana) is testing new digital payment tools that will help rural customers more easily pay for their solar home systems using mobile money.
  • Shinbone Labs (Benin, Ghana) is directly selling pre-packaged, expandable, low-cost solar kits that can be remotely activated, monitored and, in the future, paid by mobile phones.
  • Village EnergyUganda) is building a last-mile solar distribution and servicing network in rural Uganda by training young men and women to become technicians and retail shop managers in their communities.
USAID’s U.S Global Development Lab issued the awards as part of a competitive process through the Development Innovation Ventures program. Applications were evaluated based on three criteria: cost effectiveness relative to traditional alternatives, the plan for collecting rigorous evidence of success, and proposed pathways to scale if proven effective.

The Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge is a $36 million initiative launched by Power Africa, USAID, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the independent charity, Shell Foundation. The goal is to empower entrepreneurs and investors in achieving 20 million connections so households in sub-Saharan Africa have access to clean, modern and affordable electricity by 2030.

In addition, the Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Refrigerator Competition was launched with a prize purse of $600,000, through cooperation between Grand Challenge partners Power Africa, USAID, the U.S. Department of Energy, CLASP and DFID through the Ideas to Impact Programme.

Off Grid Electric partners EDF to offer off-grid solar power solutions in Ivory Coast


Tanzania-based solar firm Off Grid Electric and France’s low-carbon energy firm EDF have launched a joint venture – ZECI – in Ivory Coast, to supply power to nearly 2 million people in Ivory Coast by year 2020, with plans to rapidly extend the partnership’s initiatives to other countries in the region.

ZECI will install and maintain solar kits for rural and peri-urban households in Ivory Coast. The homes will receive easy to install solar panels and batteries. Payment can be made through the simple use of a mobile phone. Customers will therefore have access to lighting and will be able to power a suite of energy-efficient household appliances including television sets, radios, fans and mobile phone chargers.

“We’re thrilled to partner with EDF, an industry leader whose presence in Africa, combined with its experience, will enable us to grow Off Grid Electric’s footprint across the continent,” said Bill Lenihan, President and CFO, Off Grid Electric. “Access to reliable energy is a challenge throughout Africa and our partnership with EDF will help us to meet this challenge. Through energy independence, we hope to see households and communities seize new opportunities.”

Rolling out this initiative in West Africa will create thousands of new sustainable jobs (over 1000 jobs in Ivory Coast alone), from sales managers to call-centre employees, who will benefit from Off Grid Electric and EDF in-house training. Giving customers the option to use a renewable energy source like solar energy also benefits the environment by replacing candles, paraffin, and kerosene.

Off Grid Electric will be receiving the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change 2016 Award at COP22. The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change.

“Off Grid Electric is the perfect partner for EDF, with its excellent knowledge of the African continent and a proven track record of providing innovative and competitive solar solutions,” said Simone Rossi, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice President, International Division.


Africa Off Grid Solar Lighting Market size expected to reach $1.41 billion by 2024


Solar Home System (SHS) is projected to expand at over 17% CAGR up to 2024. Increasing customer base for cell phones is likely to boost SHS demand over the forecast time frame according to a report dubbed Africa Off Grid Solar Lighting Market Share & Forecast, 2016 – 2024.

1478252257Global Africa Off Grid Solar Lightning Market size was about 7.81 million units for 2015 and is predicted to register more than 16.1% CAGR by end of forecast timeframe. Growing requirement of illuminating remote areas of Africa along with reduction of kerosene lamp use is predicted to be key aspect driving industry growth.

Off grid solar lightning is preferred among rural areas having poor power supply infrastructure owing to its portability, efficacy and clean energy as compared to other conventional lightning alternatives. More than 592 million population in the region has negligible electric power supply and this consist of more than 461 million rural population and more than 131 million urban population.

Further, large population is dependent on flame based lightning that is harmful, generates low intensity light and needs constant fuel purchase like kerosene. All these factors are predicted to fuel industry growth in the region. Reducing solar component costs makes the off grid products cost effective as compared to traditional lightning sources like candles and kerosene. Further, 15.1% of income of an African family is spend on lightning charges. Growing use of off grid solar lightning product can help to reduce total lightning costs as well as health risks associated with traditional source of light.

According to the report, technological breakthroughs have helped in providing extra battery life, versatile qualities like mobile charging and consumer friendly products. All these aspects are predicted to propel industry growth during forecast timeline. But, lack of consumer consciousness about available products can hamper industry growth.

Further kerosene lamps in Africa account for more than 271 kilo tons of black carbon emissions in atmosphere each year. This causes global warming resulting in seasonal cycle changes and climatic changes and giving rise to various kinds of fatal diseases. Further, increase in price has resulted in substitution of kerosene with clean power source like solar energy predicted to favorably affect Africa off grid solar lighting market growth.

Product Insights

Global industry is segmented into different products like solar home system, large solar home system and solar lantern system. Solar home system (SHS)segment is predicted to register CAGR of more than 16% during forecast timeline. It provides additional features like small electronic gadget charging as well as cell phone charging. All these factors are predicted to promote demand for the segment.

Large solar home system (LSHS) is predicted to touch $111 million mark by end of 2024. People belonging to middle income group population in developed African nations like South Africa are shifting to LSHS due to irregular supply of power and due to ability of LSHS bulbs to light 4 to 5 bulbs. All these factors are predicted to drive segment growth.

Solar lantern system(SLS) contributed more than $191 million for 2015. It provides maximum illumination at lesser price. This system can prove to be a boon to large amount of African population belonging to low income groups having no power supply. All these factors can stimulate product demand during forecast timeline.

Application Insights

Global Africa off grid solar lightning market is segmented into different applications like residential application, industrial application and commercial application. Residential application segment contributed more than $240 million for 2015. Kerosene lamp substitution with off grid lightning products is predicted to be key factor for industry expansion in residential application segment. In addition to this, diminishing product price along with health risks associated with kerosene lamp is predicted to enhance expansion.

Industrial application segment is predicted to touch $130 million mark by end of forecast timeline. Off grid lightning products can help small scale firms with uninterrupted power supply for smooth functioning of daily business procedures. Commercial application segment is predicted to register CAGR of 16% during forecast timeframe. It can be utilized in small scale industries like retail firms helping in contributing towards additional working hours at night that can boost their sales.

Country Insights

Kenya off grid solar lightning market share was evaluated at more than $85.1 million for 2015. Increasing requirement for reducing lightning expenses in the region is predicted to be key factor driving industry expansion in the country during forecast timeframe. Technological breakthroughs, low prices, long battery life span and portability are few of the major factors leading to industry growth.

South Africa is predicted to touch $65 million mark by end of forecast timeframe. Large proportion of population fall under middle income groups in this country and this may propel demand for LSHS product in the region owing to its lucrative offers like charging ports & multiple lights.

Competitive Insights

Africa off grid solar lightning market share is segmented with large proportion of regional manufacturers. Key industry players profiled in the report include Sun Tech, BareFoot Power, Koninklijke Philips N.V, ASE ,BBOXX, D Light, SunnyMoney, Nuru Light and WakaWaka.