USAID Announces $6.3 Million for Sub-Saharan Africa’s Off-Grid Solar

October 30, 2017


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a total of $6.3 million to strengthen the off-grid energy sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The awards will provide capital to companies engaged in household solar-systems and micro-grids to expand operations, scale innovations, test new business models, and finance new rural electrification connections for millions of people. The awards are expected to reach an estimated 4.5 million beneficiaries and leverage up to $200 million in private capital.

The USAID Scaling Off-Grid Energy (SOGE) Grand Challenge for Development and Power Africa, a global partnership of USAID, Power Africa, Shell Foundation, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, and the African Development Bank, issued the awards for household solar systems. The micro-grid awards were funded by USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures program and Power Africa.

SOGE Awardees

  • Solar Frontier Capital will launch a new $100 million debt facility to provide working-capital financing to pay-as-you-go off-grid solar companies across sub-Saharan Africa. The SOGE Award will assist with the facility’s structure, financing, and pipeline development.
  • SIMA Funds will launch a new $75 million debt facility for distributors of off-grid solar home systems that serve the off-grid energy sector. The SOGE Award will create a second-loss tranche in the fund to allow SIMA to expand its investment criteria to higher-risk, earlier-stage companies.
  • Persistent Energy Capital will work with SOGE to scale its existing portfolio of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar companies across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Mobisol will launch SolarHub, a software platform to streamline operations, payments, and logistics for new and existing pay-as-you-go companies that distribute solar home systems. The SOGE Award will support the development of this platform for early-stage companies.
  • Baobab+ will expand its pay-as-you-go, product line of solar home systems as a stand-alone entity from parent company Microcred. The SOGE Award will help test and expand the company’s current distribution model in Sénégal, Mali, Madagascar, and Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Sunna Design will launch Moon, a Sénégal-based pay-as-you-go energy, digital, and financial-services venture. The SOGE Award will assist Sunna with the commercial launch of the Moon package, composed of a solar home system and smartphone with customer service apps and other digital offerings.

Micro-Grid Awardees

  • PowerGen will advance its small-power distributor model that aims to provide energy access to high-density population areas concentrated under the grid or in very close proximity to the grid through alternate current micro-grids. As of now, the firm is building a last-mile distribution network from the main grid with a micro-grid.
  • Devergy will pioneer the concept of affordable, rapidly deployable, “living” micro-grids. Its system will allow customers to gain access to a variety of service levels, ranging from household lighting to major appliances.
  • Powerhive will expand connections in Kenya by providing an initial 20 villages with 4,000 new household connections and 200 business connections with uninterrupted, 24/7, mini-grid-supplied renewable alternate current electricity. It will also develop a productive-use program in Western Kenya to provide customers with low-cost appliance leases and business loans, combined with enterprise-development support.

The USAID is providing technical assistance to help developing countries bolster their electricity networks and formulate new norms.

In India, the USAID provided technical support for developing the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2017. The adoption of ECBC is expected to lead to 30 percent-50 percent energy savings by commercial buildings. The agency is also funding a pilot project to demonstrate lithium ion technology for mini-grids in India.

Image credit: flickr


Saumy Prateek


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