Engie expands presence in Africa with acquisition of Mobisol


From pv magazine France.

French energy giant Engie has expanded its renewables business by acquiring German company Mobisol, an established off-grid solar specialist in Africa.

Created in 2011, Mobisol is active in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda and claims it has helped more than 750,000 people gain access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the company has been under insolvency proceedings since April.

The acquisition – still awaiting clearance by the relevant authorities – will expand Engie’s presence in Africa, with the French company stating it will be offering solar home systems in three additional countries, complementing the six where it is already present with its solar home system company Fenix International. Engie operates in Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Mozambique through Fenix, a company it acquired in 2017 and whose flagship product is ReadyPay Power, a solar kit for lighting, charging phones and supplying power for televisions and radios.

Engie has also developed its PowerCorner start-up in Tanzania and Zambia, which develops smart mini-grids powered by solar energy and battery storage.

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Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher claimed the business is becoming the leader in off-grid solar on the continent. “With Engie PowerCorner, Fenix and now Mobisol, we will pave the way for a new generation of affordable energy services in line with our strategy focused on the acceleration of the zero-carbon transition,” she said.

More than 600 million Africans lack access to electricity. Equipped with solar panels and a battery – and available for purchase or rental – home solar kits are an affordable and effective solution to meet energy needs in rural and off-grid areas. Universal electrification is the seventh of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, which the international community is committed to achieving by 2030.

However, concerns have been voiced about the use of such remotely monitored devices to gather data on energy use and the financial habits of customers, with some off-grid solar providers voicing ambitions to expand service provision beyond renewables.

On the larger projects side, Engie obtained financing for a 60 MW power plant in Senegal in July.

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