Marubeni leads $26m investment in off-grid African solar

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Tokyo-based Marubeni has spearheaded a $26 million investment in Azuri Technologies, an Africa-based provider of pay-as-you-go solar home solutions.

Existing shareholders of Azuri Technologies also participated in the strategic investment, along with London-listed intellectual property commercialization specialist. Azuri — which has offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria — will use the funds to speed up its expansion throughout East and West Africa, so it can provide solar lighting and other services to more off-grid communities throughout the continent.

“We believe that Azuri’s unique business model will have a profound impact on the growing off-grid energy market in Africa,” said Yoshiaki Yokota, chief operating officer of the power business division at Marubeni.

Pay-as-you-go systems allow people in off-grid communities to use lighting, watch TV and use the Internet with smartphones. Dutch off-grid solar provider Lumos, for example, raised $90 million to roll out such systems in Nigeria in late 2016. Beyond Africa, organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have also facilitated significant equity investments in similar pay-as-you-go solar providers in countries such as India.