EU cash will fund solar lights for fishers


Solar-powered lights for small-scale commercial fisherfolk in Tanzania and Uganda will be among the clean energy products to be rolled out thanks to new private equity investments from EU funding for Africa totaling €4.5 million

The European Union-funded Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) will evenly invest the money between three solar companies, with Tanzanian business Simusolar Inc. among the beneficiaries.

Simusolar is financing affordable solar lights for fisherfolk and water pumps for small scale farmers in its home market and neighboring Uganda and will put the $1.5 million towards its goal of benefiting more than 27,000 smallholders.

French business Sunkofa SAS and French/Beninese business MyJouleBox will also each use €1.5 million of private equity direct investment to develop clean energy solutions in Africa, with Benin the initial focus for both companies.

Sunkofa will use part of the investment to finance 40 mini grids in the nation, together with Florida-based WindGen Power USA, which installs small scale solar and wind facilities in the developing world. The mini-grids project, awarded by U.S. Congress foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation last summer, is set to begin this year and reach commercial operation within 12 months. Any remaining funds from the ElectriFI cash would go towards other mini-grid developments in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The investment in MyJouleBox would be put towards a target of adding 31,000 new electricity connections for 155,000 consumers as it bids to strengthen its market position in Benin ahead of expansion into neighboring Togo and Burkina Faso and regional neighbor Senegal. The French/Beninese business, which has installed renewables generation capacity of 1.3 MWp to date, said it also intends to hire 200 new staff.

Launched in 2015, the €215 million ElectriFI fund has 33 portfolio investments and has devoted more than €60 million to projects in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Each of the newly approved projects falls under ElectriFI's remit, which includes supporting the roll-out of mini-grids, solar home systems, independent power producers, and off-grid renewables plants.

* This article was amended on January 21, 2021, at 5.15 pm CEST to indicate that the private equity investments  have not been issued yet; rather they are still pending final closure. Additional details of $1.5 million being given to a Tanzanian business operating in Tanzania and Uganda were also added.

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