Energy

AFC receives US$150 million from KfW Development Bank for power, telcos, transport & heavy industries

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mhgoo8sAfrica Finance Corporation (AFC) has received a US$150 million 15 year loan facility from KfW Development Bank (KfW) to refinance projects in power, telecommunications, transport and heavy industries.

According to Andrew Alli, President and Chief Executive Officer of AFC: “Not only will this loan facility from KfW add valuable capital to our finance reserves but the 15-year tenor period is particularly suited to funding the long-term, large-scale infrastructure projects that are so needed across Africa.

Alli added that Africa’s infrastructure deficit is widely estimated to be approximately US$90b every year for the next decade, with spending needed for new investments as well as operations and maintenance of what is already there. Loans such as these are invaluable if we are to make substantial progress with bridging this gap and stimulating economic development on the continent.

Jan Martin Witte, Head of Division for Infrastructure at KfW Development Bank, stated: “KfW is excited about Africa’s growth potential. To enable that growth, and to build a sustainable future, countries on the continent will have to invest heavily in power, transport and other infrastructure sectors. As one of the world’s leading development finance institutions, KfW is proud to build partnerships with entrepreneurial institutions such as AFC that can drive development and progress on the African continent.”

AFC also launched a JV with Harith General Partners to merge several key power assets. These include the AFC’s interests in Cenpower, owner of the Kpone Independent Power Project under construction in Ghana, and Cabeolica, a wind farm that provides 20% of Cape Verde’s energy needs. The joint venture’s near term portfolio supplies reliable energy to over 30 million people in at least 10 African countries and has a combined gross operational and under-construction capacity of 1,575 MW.

The announcement comes shortly after AFC was awarded an A3/P-2, investment grade credit rating with a stable outlook by international ratings agency Moody’s for a third consecutive year.

Microsoft launches a centre of excellence to tap into the Middle East & African oil & gas industry

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In a move to tap into the Middle East and Africa oil and gas industry market,  Microsoft has launched a new centre of excellence for oil and gas in Dubai, built specifically to assist customers in driving digital transformation, cost cutting and optimisation of their operations across the region and the world.

At the centre, firms in the oil and gas industry will learn about latest trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, modern productivity and cloud computing using Microsoft technologies like Microsoft Azure and Office 365 as well as meet top players like Accenture, Aveva, Baker Hughes, Honeywell, OSIsoft, Schneider Electric and Schlumberger.

“Digital transformation is top of mind for executives in the oil and gas industry, which is why we built the centre of excellence in the Middle East,” says Omar Saleh, director for Oil and Gas at Microsoft, Middle East and Africa.

The centre will help the executives to develop sound digital strategies to enable innovation and development in the industry forward.

According to the 2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey by Accenture and Microsoft, 80% of upstream oil and gas companies plan to increase spending on digital technologies in order to help them drive leaner, smarter organisations. The International Data Corporation (IDC), predicts that IT spending in oil and gas will increase to nearly $50 billion in 2016, while spending on connectivity related technologies should increase by 30%.

With 44% of respondents in the 2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey reporting that investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) is their next big priority, it’s clear that in the current challenging environment the industry is focusing technologies on areas that will deliver efficiencies and savings in the short term while enabling faster decision making. Respondents also saw the greatest impact from IoT in enabling connected field workers, with 60% planning to have field workers and assets digitally connected with smart devices.

The firm expects the center to give this sector an opportunity not only to cut costs but also redesign businesses to thrive in volatile market conditions and ensure security.

FibreCo’s TechTrain initiative to accelerate fibre skills development

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Andile Ngcaba - TechTrain

Since the inception of its fibre technician training programme in 2012, FibreCo has been steadily growing its commitment towards building capacity in the fibre sector.

Now FibreCo is embarking on the next phase of its training programme ‘TechTrain’ which aims to build deeper industry partnerships and further strengthen successful candidates’ ability to gain meaningful employment after graduating.

FibreCo owns and operates a 4000 km fibre-optic network route and carrier-grade equipment hosting facilities that interconnect over 50 points of presence countrywide. These include Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London, amongst many others.

“These young people are the future leaders within our industry.  We want to motivate you to be go-getters with a will to succeed and hope that TechTrain will put you on the right path to success,” Andile Ngcaba, Chairman, FibreCo.  

Arif Hussain, CEO FibreCo, says that it is vital to sustain South Africa’s growing fibre-optic industry: “In order to ensure that we can support the rapid roll-out of fibre currently taking place, we need to grow the pool of skilled and qualified fibre-optic technicians citizens’ throughout the country.  These high-speed, high capacity networks are critical to the ability of all South Africans to participate in the benefits offered by the Internet, the digital economy and e-Government services.”

According to a recent talent shortage survey conducted by Manpower, the unemployment rate in South Africa remains one of the highest in the world with 47% of employers citing a lack of technical competency as the biggest obstacle to recruiting new employees.

The TechTrain programme is designed to ensure students are mentored, exposed to new skills and gain hands-on experience, providing them with a sound foundation to develop their skill-set and experience for future career development.

The added incentive is that these skills are being deployed into an industry sector where there are clear job creation opportunities.  To date, some 200 technicians have qualified through the programme, resulting in 135 internships and 38 graduates currently appointed on a permanent basis with suppliers and other industry players.

Hussain explains that the programme is accredited in South Africa by MICT Seta and internationally by the Fibre Optic Association (FOA). “TechTrain creates an environment for young unemployed graduates to strive for excellence and enter the job market with the skills to help the fibre industry become more competitive and provide access to high-speed broadband throughout the country,” he says.

 

“Since the programme’s inception, we envisaged that it had the potential to have a greater impact on a wider scale,” Hussain adds. “As the initiative continues to grow through partnerships with like-minded organisations, our commitment to skills development to bring value to the industry is reaffirmed.”

 

Pay-as-you-go solar firm PEG Africa raises $7.5 million to expand across West Africa

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slide3-300x199Ghana’s off-grid pay-as-you-go solar firm Persistent Energy Ghana (PEG) has closed a $7.5 million Series A round to expand operations in Ghana, build out the management team, and to enter Ivory Coast.

The A-2 round was led by Energy Access Ventures, and includes Blue Haven Initiative, as well as follow-on investment from existing investors, Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) and Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies.  These investors join Impact Assets and Persistent Energy Capital, among others.

In a statement, Hugh Whalan, CEO of PEG: We are thrilled to receive the support of new and existing investors, and to continue our vision to bring pay-as-you-go financing to the massive, and largely ignored, West African market.  As a market leader in this region, where there are 35 million off-grid homes, we are uniquely placed to do this.”

PEG has over 10,000 customers and operates 29 service centers in 7 regions of Ghana.   The Series A investment comes from a $4.3 million USD A-2 round which closed today and follows an earlier A-1 investment of $3.2 million in September 2015.

A statement from EAV says it invested $2 million in this A-2 round. PEG provides loans for solar home systems and other useful assets to off-grid households in West Africa. PEG is able to focus on off-grid customers, who are often rural and considered risky by banks and microfinance, because it provides loans using ‘pay-as-you-go’ technology.

 “We are immensely proud to be investing in PEG. EAV was hugely impressed with PEG’s leadership team and greatly looks forward to working with the company and its other investors,”  Lauren Cochran, Director of Private Investments, Blue Haven Initiative.

PEG is focused on providing credit for useful and productive assets to off-grid customers, and by doing this, we seek to enable customers to gain ownership of assets that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.  Importantly, as customers pay off their loan to PEG, we start to understand their credit history, which is a valuable tool we can then use to provide for additional loans for products and services.

EnergyNet launches business accelerator for off grid energy projects across Africa

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Image credits: 2016.spaceappschallenge.org

shutterstock_powerlinesAs 2,000 of the world’s most bankable investors in Africa and emerging markets around the world gather in London for the 18th Africa Energy Forum and Growing Economies Energy Forum, EnergyNet launches the ‘Off The Grid Club’ with backing from the UN Foundation and the Electrification Financing Initiative, to accelerate market ready micro-grid and off grid technologies across the continent.

The Off the Grid Club is a new membership programme developed to bring together credible off grid technology providers, financiers and regional leaders to invest in and accelerate the development of reliable and scalable power solutions for Africa. Members will be given a platform and branding at EnergyNet conferences to show case their products and network with potential investors.

EnergyNet’s Simon Gosling commented, “In emerging markets where economies are growing at a rapid pace, the fact that market ready technologies are not reaching millions of people disconnected from the grid is a major concern. I’m delighted some of the world’s most powerful investors will finance innovative technology companies that are struggling to get to a point where they can say ‘see- it works!’

EnergyNet is using conference sponsorship fees to invest into the ‘Not Just Talking Fund for Energy Access’ which selected members of the initiative will have access to. Gosling noted, “The fund is ideally positioned to do what commercial funders cannot – finance ‘proof of concept’ commercial and sustainable projects of up to £50,000. The simple fact that we’re investing sponsorship money and drawing on our partners’ knowledge to help entrepreneurs succeed is incredibly dynamic, and we fully encourage other conference companies to follow.”

An existing member of the Club ElectriFI commented, “ElectriFI aims to support investments that have potential to add to new and improved connections in a financially sustainable way, but cannot be financed yet by commercial or development banks. We are eager to show what we can offer, and even more eager to learn from actors in the off-grid space. “

Founding Members of the Club, who will also invest into the Not Just Talking Fund and advise members on product launches, include Shake Your Power, PowerTurtle and Solektra International, the company that launched the Akon Lighting Africa Initiative.

EnergyNet first utilised the ‘Not Just Talking Fund’ in South Africa with an initial investment in Ugesi

Gold’s PowerTurtle solar project, which employed technology with the potential to be rolled out to around 400 schools across Gauteng Province.

Solarcentury to install a 1MWp roof solar system to power Kenya’s London Distillers’ for 25 years

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solarUK’s solar company Solarcentury is to install an almost 1MWp roof solar system that will generate enough solar electricity to power London Distillers’ building in Athi River, Kenya in a move that will see the firm offset the need for grid energy,  save $180K per year for at least the next 25 years during the lifetime of the system.

Solarcentury’s deal with London Distillers’ make it the fourth solar hybrid system Solarcentury has designed and installed in Kenya after the Williamson Tea,  Garden City mall carport and recently at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe).

The new system will be connected to the grid and generating clean solar electricity by the end of the year and will be paid for in six years.

Mohan Galot, Chairman of London Distillers comments, “We are always looking for ways to improve the cost efficiency of our operations and protect the environment, and investing in solar presented us with a solution for both these ambitions.”

London Distillers will power the whole building using solar electricity during the day and expects to save money and help the environment.

Guy Lawrence, Director of Solarcentury in East Africa commented, “We are excited to be delivering the largest commercial rooftop solar system in East Africa. This solar investment makes London Distillers a pioneer company in the manufacturing sector and also demonstrates a genuine commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

At International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology(icipe), Solarcentury is installing three solar PV plants, with a total capacity of 1154kWp. Two solar roof systems combined with a carport system will be built at the icipe Duduville Campus in Nairobi. The third solar roof system will be built at the icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus, in western Kenya, which will be combined with battery storage.

Solarcentury is designing the systems and is the EPC contractor (engineer, procure, construct), also with responsibility for O&M for the next five years. The project will be delivered by Solarcentury’s East Africa office, comprising a team of eight based in Nairobi, with support from the head office team in the UK.

 

 

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner endorses Uganda’s Kayoola Solar Bus

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13339737_10208047568001255_1406875131335116521_nAchim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations endorsed the Kayoola Solar Bus, Africa’s first solar powered bus in Nairobi, during the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), taking place at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.

Held at the sidelines of the UNEA conference,the Sustainable Innovations Expo was focused on green innovations such as the Kayoola Solar Bus, manufactured in Uganda by Kiira Motors Corporation.

Achim Steiner exuded excitement and pride to see 21st century mobility technology being put on the road in Africa, by Africans as he challenged local investors in to invest in the fast growing green economy in Africa that Kiira Motors is currently participating in through the production of environmentally friendly vehicles.

Paul Isaac Musasizi, the Chief Executive Officer Kiira Motors lauded the endorsement of Kayoola Solar Bus by the UNEP executive director as a validation that Uganda is prime and ready for automotive manufacturing   and engineering, as he committed to further engage the government and private sector for further policy and investment commitment.

“We are happy to have Uganda globally relevant in the urban green mobility solutions conversation, as we plug into international collaborations in the vehicle production value chain to synergize” he added.

The Kayoola Solar bus, produced in 2016 is one of the 3 concept vehicles produced by the Kiira Vehicle Technology Innovation Program. The KIIRA EV, a 2 seater electric car was launched in 2011, KIIRA EV SMACK; a 5 seater hybrid electric sedan followed in 2014 and the Kayoola Solar Bus was the latest addition in 2016.

With production on course to start  in 2018, The Kiira Motors production plant will be situated at the Uganda Investment Authority  Jinja Industrial  and Business Park,  which shall be equipped  to support the manufacture of  up to 60,000 cars  , comprising of Pick-ups,  SUVs , Sedans, trucks and buses.  Vehicle imports and related expenditure into Uganda are estimated to be over USD 500 million and USD 2 billion for the East African Region.

General Electric leads the creation of a joint venture with Mara Group and Atlas Merchant Capital to benefit African infrastructure

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General Electric, the Mara Group and Atlas Merchant Capital have launched a JV to invest in the highly underdeveloped African infrastructure sector to meet the estimated population rise to 1.5bn by 2025.

The three argue that Africa presents high growth prospects in power generation, transport, oil & gas and other infrastructure areas including mining, therefore the JV will focus on facilitating access to capital for both advanced and early development stage projects.

According to Jay Ireland, President and CEO GE Africa: “This joint venture unifies three businesses with a strong commitment and expertise in infrastructure in Africa. The joint venture is our response to an integrated infrastructure approach in Africa.”

The hurdles to address are rapid urbanisation, and a growing middle class devoid of infrastructure. More than 50% of our African nations including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the DRC, don’t have access to electricity(2) and an infrastructure investment of US$360bn in power production, power transmission, water storage, modern railways, port capacity and modern highways will be required until 2040. Furthermore, Africa needs to spend $90bn a year for the next decade in order to upgrade and maintain its existing infrastructure alone.

Ashish J Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group, adds: “Through our joint venture with GE and Atlas Merchant Capital, we hope to tackle the funding deficit by creating a platform that has the power to truly change the lives of those living on the continent.”

PayGo Solar firm PoaPower receives $217,000 to pilot its zero deposit solar systems in Kenya

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PoaPower, a pay-as-you-go recently received a £150,000 convertible loan ($217,162) for a pilot in Kenya in a move to provide off-grid communities with affordable clean energy using innovative mobile payments.

With the ability to power Mobile phones, fans, TVs, laptops, lamps, 12v car appliances, PoaPower is targeting to meet the needs of over 600 million people in Africa who lack access to electricity. The firm has began a pilot phase aimed at reaching out to 100-200 households in its first phase.

Poa Power aims to sell energy on a metered pay-as-you-go basis with no upfront equipment costs to ensure that even the lowest income households can access clean energy as and when they choose.

PoaPower’s £150,000 convertible debt investment from GIF will support the firm to test its business model by innovation, distributing and installing their technology in 100-200 households in the Mount Kenya area.  GIF says it invested into PoaPower due to its innovation in both technology and pricing. If it launches, PoaPower will face competition from Mkopa Solar which has extensively covered East Africa.

“Poa Power’s pilot will test a new business model as well as unique power supply proposition for low-income households. The market test that Poa Power is subjected to will make it easy to assess whether people value this service and what prices they are willing and able to pay for solar power,” said GIF.

GIF’s other investments include SafeBoda, which were covered here, Educate among others.

M-KOPA Solar raises $4 million to support the distribution of solar home systems in East Africa

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M-KOPA Solar has announced the second USD 4 million Note, from an expected USD 20 million total size, under an impact debt issuance programme established in partnership with a leading Liechtenstein banking group.

The funding will help finance M-KOPA’s growing working capital needs as it moves from serving 330,000 customers today, to its target of over 1 million by the end of 2017.  This is a landmark programme for debt funding in the off-grid power sector.

According to Chad Larson, Co-Founder and Chief Credit Officer, M-KOPA, “By allowing an ongoing source of funding for our working capital assets, including our receivables book, this programme will allow M-KOPA to scale its business more easily, and in more a predictable trajectory, as we reach our goal of a million customers by 2017.  We couldn’t be more pleased to be working with our banking partner and city law firm Kerman & Co.”

M-KOPA makes solar energy affordable to low-income households on a pay-as-you-go instalment plan. Customers pay a deposit of US$35, followed by 365 daily mobile money payments of 50 cents. Each battery-powered 8W system comes with 3 lights, mobile phone charging and a solar powered radio. Customers can now also opt for a 20W system with digital TV.

After completing the payment package, customers own their system outright – generating free, clean power and savings of over US$750 per household over a four-year period. They then qualify for more cost effective financing for a range of productive assets. These include more lights, digital TVs, energy-efficient cooking stoves, internet-enabled smartphones, and water storage tanks.

After the successful sale of a USD 3 million inaugural Note issue in October last year, M-KOPA placed another oversubscribed USD 4 million Note on 11 April 2016. The Notes were issued out of a compartmentalised Luxembourg securitisation vehicle to sophisticated and institutional investors only. The proceeds of the Notes will be on-lent to the M-KOPA group for working capital purposes at the M-KOPA operating companies in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The ultimate source of interest and repayment for the Notes is the collection of the small instalments from customer payment plans on their solar devices.

The minimum purchase size was USD 150,000.

Robert Koller, Partner Kerman & Co said, “The Impact Debt Issuance Programme we created for our clients is part of our focus on social impact and helping the sector to scale up. We have made use of traditional structures and procedures adapting them to this unique platform. The time to market to get funding for social impact businesses that use this platform has been reduced from many months, to just a few weeks.”

Using such financing techniques M-KOPA not only helps to create a financing platform for impact businesses, but also provides proof of concept that the impact investment area is scalable in a way that will allow the sector to grow even further. These Notes open the way for institutional investors and high net worth individuals outside the philanthropy sector.

The currently issued USD 4 million will support the distribution of approximately 80,000 additional solar home systems over the next 18 months. With an average household size of over 5 people, over 400,000 lives will be improved. And those 80,000 homes will be generating 10 million hours of kerosene-free lighting per month and combined projected savings of USD 60 million over a 4 year period.

 

Africa requires up to US$90 billion of investment annually to meet its current energy shortfall.

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Africa requires up to US$90 billion of investment annually to meet its current energy shortfall according to a new report commissioned by IHS Towers.

The report dubbed “Power Up, Delivering Renewable Energy in Africa,” written by the Economist Intelligence Unit and published today to coincide with the World Economic Forum on Africa, also asks the energy  firms to copy the telco secto to succeed.

The key findings include the case for building renewable energy infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa is stronger than ever and positive experiences in lead markets such as South Africa and Kenya highlight successful strategies and best practices.

According to the report, the African renewables sector resembles the mobile phone sector of a decade ago. It has the capacity to leapfrog heavy infrastructure with a larger-than-assumed market, the emergence of smart business models and improved technology. However, long-term renewable procurement programmes are needed to build the greenfield infrastructure necessary.

The report also adds that there has been huge growth in technology sales and financing innovation. The market for pico-solar units has grown from almost zero in 2009, to 4.5 million in 2014 and, in January 2016, Africa saw its first solar bonds, a securitisation financial product for small scale off-grid solar projects.

The report finds that a 680% increase in net renewables capacity deployment is needed if Africa is to achieve the African Renewable Energy Initiative’s ambitious goal of 300 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, agreed by the Africa Union and member governments at the recent Paris climate talks. Innovative tools and projects are helping to bring green energy to people beyond the traditional grid. However, there is no substitute for larger infrastructure programmes such as wind and solar farms.

In conclusion, Issam Darwish, Executive Vice Chairman and IHS Towers Group CEO, says, This report reaffirms that Sub-Saharan Africa has the raw ingredients for a vibrant renewables energy market: resource abundance, falling costs of wind turbines and solar panels, smart innovations in end-user equipment and political commitment – by governments and international donors alike.

The report recognises the scale of the opportunity facing the continent – from geothermal power in Kenya and Ethiopia to solar power in Zambia and Uganda – and will help governments, businesses and investors to understand how to support renewable energy projects and provide the best conditions for success.

PayGo Solar Firm Azuri Doubles Down on East Africa With Launch of Regional Unit

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Pay-as-you-go solar firm Azuri Technologies has created Azuri East Africa, based in Nairobi, to consolidate its growing presence in the region and bring together Azuri’s East African activities under a single operating entity.

The firm has also appointed former Regional CFO of Eaton Towers, Snehar Shah, to lead its East Africa operations five years since it first entered the Kenyan market.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Chief Executive of Azuri: “The creation of Azuri East Africa marks a further milestone in Azuri’s journey and demonstrates our continuing commitment to serving our customers in East Africa. I am delighted that leading industry figure Snehar Shah will be joining us to drive the next stage of our growth in the region.”

With over 80,000 households served across multiple African countries, Azuri East Africa will be a launch pad for further expansion across the burgeoning East Africa region with products such as HomeStart, Quad Solar and the Duo.

HomeSmart, is a machine-learning technology that adapts to each customer’s individual needs to guarantee light at night while Quad solar home system provides customers with four LED lights with mobile phone charging and a rechargeable radio all for KES 50 per day and the new Duo product with two lights and charger is requires no deposit and equivalent daily payments as low as KES 31.50 per day.

The firm will be a competition to M-KOPA Solar, Angaza and Mobisol which recently launched in the country.

With greater demand for electricity,  strategic alternatives like those promoted by Azuri Technologies are instrumental in providing necessary clean and affordable solutions for both rural and urban consumers. Shah says he’s looking forward to building upon my experience within the telecom industry and is proud to be part of the growth of the pay-as-you-go solar products to the mass market in the same region.

Azuri’s HQ is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom, with staff based in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

M-Kopa & Equitel to receive over $10.6 million from MasterCard to reach the rural poor

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M-KOPA, Equitel, Musoni, APA Insurance and Olam Uganda Ltd are set to receive more than US$10.6 million under the 2015 Fund for Rural Prosperity Scaling Competition from the MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity.

The five companies have been awarded more than US$10.6 million to bolster their innovative work to alleviate poverty by increasing access to financial services for poor people in rural Africa.

Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation said, “These five displayed an innovative approach backed by a solid business proposal and a commitment to excellence that convinced us to support their efforts.”

The Fund for Rural Prosperity is managed by KPMG International Development Advisory Services, Africa. The 2016 competition will be open from April 14th to June 10th, 2016. Applications will be accepted from anywhere in the world but must be implemented in one or more of eight countries of focus in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).

Nick Hughes, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, M-KOPA, said that “M-KOPA Labs is delighted to be partnering with The MasterCard Foundation to explore new ways to deliver credit services to rural customers and farmers in Tanzania, many of whom live beyond the grid and without access to financial services. The project with The MasterCard Foundation will be aimed at helping more low income Tanzanians to access clean energy, agricultural inputs and financial services.”

MTN, World Panel launch micro-solar chargers for off-grid users

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mission_image_05cMTN South Africa and World Panel have partnered to see susbcribers charge their devices on the go using World Panel’s SunStream, a portable mobile phone solar charger.

The R219 package includes a SunStream™ and R20 free airtime on the MTN network. This promotional package is available at MTN stores in Mthatha and the SunStream™ expected to roll out across South Africa.

“The SunStream™ was developed with exactly this customer in mind: someone who views their mobile device as a lifeline, but lacks the power to keep it charged,” said Hennie Botha, World Panel’s Managing Director for South Africa. “The reliable, affordable power offered by the SunStream™ can be a game-changer, and we are therefore pleased to launch this bundle with MTN.”

Though this does not look so innovative enough, World Panel’s SunStream™ product line was introduced in late 2015 after years in development and is able to bypass the need for chipsets or PC boards, which are notorious for breakage on typical solar charging devices.

The highly durable SunStream™ products can charge most feature phones at or near the same speed as a wall plug and can perform even while submerged in water.

Kenya Power & Safaricom to connect 12,000 homes to fibre internet this year

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 Kenya Power, through its subsidiary Kenya Power International owns and operates more than 4,000km in length of fibre optic cable network in Kenya, which it leases to the major telecom players in the country.

Today, the firm announced a partnership with Safaricom to connect more Kenyans to broadband Internet via Kenya’s Power’s electricity distribution network. The deal will see Safaricom lease additional broadband infrastructure built and owned by Kenya Power in order to roll out a “last mile” network, with the aim of connecting more homes to its broadband internet services.

Kenya Power Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ben Chumo, “The agreement will promote development and improvement of additional telecommunications infrastructure for effective and efficient provision of telecommunications services to both public and private institutions through provision of adequate, reliable and competitively-priced fibre networks,” Dr. Chumo concluded.

Safaricom has to date rolled out 3,200km of fibre reaching 7,000 homes, and this deal gives it more opportunities to provide its consumers with fast, reliable broadband services from the comfort of their homes. The project targets more than 12,000 homes in a 12-month pilot to be carried out in residential areas in and around Nairobi.

The collaboration between the two firms will provide valuable lessons into how to scale and speed up the connection of homes and small offices to broadband.

“This collaborative partnership harnesses the strength of both partners to extend a new world of possibilities to our customers, in recognition of the transformative impact of the Internet, “said Bob Collymore, CEO – Safaricom Limited.

He added: “By leveraging on Kenya Power’s electricity infrastructure we will not only be able to accelerate the rate of connection to homes, we will tackle challenges experienced in roll-out of broadband services and reduce the inconvenience caused to Kenyans when we are forced to dig trenches to lay the underground fibre optic cable grid.”

 

M-KOPA Solar’s New Holy Grail | a Ksh 54,000, 16 Inch Solar-powered Digital TV

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Finally,  M-KOPA Solar might have found its holy grail, a move likely to turn the green energy financer’s fortune around and reduce its dependency on investor money and turn a profit.

Originally distributing solar lighting kits in East African homes for a meagre Ksh 3,500 deposit and Ksh 50 daily for a year (Ksh 21,750), the firm realized it could maintain its solar energy route but add more items to its inventory to get any significant returns.

Today,  the firm launched its first solar-powered digital flat screen TV emotively aiming to appeal to the rural folks who may never have heard of or seen a TV set let alone own one. Backed with stats from Kenya Audience Research Foundation 2015, TV only reaches 31 percent of the entire adult population daily, leaving out a huge 69 percent in the dark. The firm has sold 500 solar TVs already.

However, from today the firm says existing customers who have finished paying off their M-KOPA payment plans are now able to extend their KES 50 per day payment plan to upgrade to the “M-KOPA + TV” system. After completing the 2-year payment plan, customers own the television and solar power system outright and can enjoy viewing without any ongoing bills. (Ksh 36,500)

According to Jesse Moore, CEO at M-KOPA, “What’s remarkable about the M-KOPA + TV is it enables customers to turn the same KES 50 per day that they used to burn on kerosene into a solar-powered 16 inch TV. We are literally turning dirty fossil fuels into a renewable, digital, modern home.”

New customers take the M-KOPA 400 option which comes with a 20W PV panel, a 16” digital TV, two lights, a torch, a phone charger, and a radio and is available for a deposit of KES 8,000 plus a year of daily payments of KES 125. (Ksh53,625 in total)

Though M-KOPA is so emotive on this issue, bringing out the fact that owning a TV is life-changing to its off-grid customers, its big business for it.Do the math.

“Owning a TV is life-changing for our off-grid customers. Many of them have traditionally had to pay to watch in a café or bar, or missed out on news and current events because they could not afford to be connected to information. We are now going beyond the grid to offer TV to homes all over Kenya. It’s great for the family to be able to watch together in the comfort and safety of their home,” says Moore.

Safaricom’s Bob Collymore also agree on the importance of an affordable digital TV.

“M-PESA and Safaricom are helping make digital TV affordable and accessible for the first time for millions of people. I think M-KOPA’s innovation signals a fundamental change for TV audiences in Kenya. We creating the genesis of a new economy based on clean energy that promises to include groups who have been previously marginalised.”

Safaricom also promised to develop free educational content for kids in rural homes in the near future.

 

Connected Summit 2016 aims to identify and fill the gaps in public sector service delivery

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Themed ‘Bridging the Service Gap’, the 2016 Connected Summit,has taken off at the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, Diani, Kwale County to help identify gaps in public sector service delivery and use ICT to solve them.

Giving opening remarks, Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT said the summit is “an opportunity to work together to bring about changes. ”

Mucheru said the summit is a chance for Kenyans to give the ministry ideas to make Kenya work in regards to ICT. A time for people to debate on issues such as VAT on devices, 4G an 5G licences, dominance,  regulation of over the top services like Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram and much more.

Now in its 7th year, the Connected Kenya is the brainchild of the ICT Authority in consultation with ICT industry players and key government decision makers. The Summit has brought together stakeholders in the ICT sector to collaborate, build capacity and share knowledge and help carry out government IT projects to world-class standards.

Connected Kenya has seen some projects such as Kenya Open Data Initiative, Huduma citizen’s portal and the development of a national Information Security Policy discussed and formulated at the Connected SUmmit.

Also in attendance are ICT ministry officials from Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Solarcentury to deliver US$ 2.5m solar PV portfolio for world-leading Kenyan insect research centre

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solarUK’s Solarcentury will undertake the $2.5m installation of three solar PV plants, with a total capacity of 1154kWp, at the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology(icipe).

Two solar roof systems combined with a carport system will be built at the icipe Duduville Campus in Nairobi. The third solar roof system will be built at the icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus, in western Kenya, which will be combined with battery storage.

Solarcentury will design the systems and will be the EPC contractor (engineer, procure, construct), also with responsibility for O&M for the next five years. The project will be delivered by Solarcentury’s East Africa office, comprising a team of eight based in Nairobi, with support from the head office team in the UK.

Dr Segenet Kelemu, icipe Director General said, “Through this project, icipe’s goal is to create a sustainable energy supply and to reduce diesel fuel dependency by constructing solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants at its Duduville Campus headquarters in Kasarani, Nairobi, and at the icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus on the shores of Lake Victoria.”

Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the scheme is part of the icipe Greening Project, which, in addition to renewable energy, also includes energy saving initiatives and water conservation measures, with the overall aim of reducing the Centre’s carbon footprint and making its operations more environmentally friendly.

Guy Lawrence, Director at Solarcentury in East Africa said, “In the last two years in Kenya, we have built one of the largest solar farms in east Africa for a tea farm, as well as a solar carport on the roof of a brand new Mall in Nairobi. Now we are bringing our world-class engineering expertise to develop three systems, including what we believe to be the largest battery storage system for solar in east Africa. The awarding of this contract means that Solarcentury will have built the three largest PV systems in Kenya.

Lawrence added that the firm has always been keen to work with organisations who want to improve the sustainability of their operations, and are pleased to be able to help organisations save money too adding that icipe’s mission of safeguarding the environment aligns with its own mission to alleviate climate change.

Work on site will commence in July 2016 and the systems are expected to be generating solar electricity by October 2016.

Mobisol officially launches in Kenya |Connects 40,000 Homes to Smart Solar Solutions

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Mobisol, a pay-as-you-go smart solar home solutions firm today officially launched in Kenya amidst celebrating reaching out to 200,000 beneficiaries in East Africa. “Our systems are designed to power entire households and even businesses with a variety of highly efficient DC appliances,” said  Mobisol’s CEO Thomas Gottschalk. “Many of our customers in Tanzania and Rwanda not only run 32 inch flat screen TVs with their system, but also power haircutters and hair-straighteners simultaneously, while entertaining their barbershop customers with music stereos.”

The firm says its solar systems are available in different sizes ranging from 80 to 200 Watt and can illuminate a medium-sized home with seven LED bulbs, power a radio, charge various mobile phones and run a TV – simultaneously.

Its large systems can can power multiple lights, laptop/TV, a DC refrigerator and charge up to ten mobile phones parallel. Mobisol also offers a “Business out of a Box” feature, which enables entrepreneurial customers to set-up income generating activities such as barbershops as well as phone and solar lantern charging stations.

The firm celebrated its Kenyan market entry with an installation ceremony in Kiambu County where they installed a 120Watt solar system at the premises of its 200,000th beneficiary, John Kimani Wanjiru.

Gottschalk is banking on the fact that Mobisol solar systems are ten times bigger than those of their competitors able to power up more appliances than just mobile phones and light.

Mobisol is already operational in Tanzania and Rwanda, where it has already installed over 40,000 solar systems, an estimated 4 MW of decentralized solar electricity to rural areas. The firm also aims to connect approximately 13,000 businesses in East Africa to generate an significant additional household income of over 5 million USD per year.

Mobisol officially launches in Kenya |Connects 40,000 Homes to Smart Solar Solutions

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Mobisol, a pay-as-you-go smart solar home solutions firm today officially launched in Kenya amidst celebrating reaching out to 200,000 beneficiaries in East Africa. “Our systems are designed to power entire households and even businesses with a variety of highly efficient DC appliances,” said  Mobisol’s CEO Thomas Gottschalk. “Many of our customers in Tanzania and Rwanda not only run 32 inch flat screen TVs with their system, but also power haircutters and hair-straighteners simultaneously, while entertaining their barbershop customers with music stereos.”

The firm says its solar systems are available in different sizes ranging from 80 to 200 Watt and can illuminate a medium-sized home with seven LED bulbs, power a radio, charge various mobile phones and run a TV – simultaneously.

Its large systems can can power multiple lights, laptop/TV, a DC refrigerator and charge up to ten mobile phones parallel. Mobisol also offers a “Business out of a Box” feature, which enables entrepreneurial customers to set-up income generating activities such as barbershops as well as phone and solar lantern charging stations.

The firm celebrated its Kenyan market entry with an installation ceremony in Kiambu County where they installed a 120Watt solar system at the premises of its 200,000th beneficiary, John Kimani Wanjiru.

Gottschalk is banking on the fact that Mobisol solar systems are ten times bigger than those of their competitors able to power up more appliances than just mobile phones and light.

Mobisol is already operational in Tanzania and Rwanda, where it has already installed over 40,000 solar systems, an estimated 4 MW of decentralized solar electricity to rural areas. The firm also aims to connect approximately 13,000 businesses in East Africa to generate an significant additional household income of over 5 million USD per year.