Member Highlights – March 2017

Off-Grid Electric to invest $25 million in solar electrification project in rural Tanzania

Off-Grid Electric is set to invest $25 million in a micro-solar leasing platform in rural East Africa, where most homes are currently not connected to the national electricity grid. When the connection is made, residents will be able to purchase energy in minute amounts of M-Power, the micro-leasing model. The clients will send mobile payments to receive a code which is entered into a meter, which provides access to energy. The $25 million was raised by several funders led by San Francisco based DBL Partners. By 2017, Off-Grid Electric will have provided solar lighting kits to one million homes and will expand their business into Rwanda, still an extension of their East Africa electrification project.

Piyush Mathur Appointed New CEO of Simpa Networks

Simpa Networks recently announced that Piyush Mathur has been appointed for the role of Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Mathur joined Simpa Networks as Chief Financial Officer in September 2014 and has led all aspects of strategic finance, having initiated a series of strategic partnerships with domestic and international financial institutions, mobilizing the capital Simpa needs to increase its scale and impact.

Simpa is at the forefront of the clean energy market in India through its unique financing model. The company leases solar energy systems to farmers and shopkeepers in rural India who previously have not had access to solar electricity due to multiple market barriers. Using a new pre-paid metering and remote monitoring technology to create pay-as-you-go payment plans, Simpa makes solar and mitigates default risks for distributed rooftop solar assets in rural areas. Today more than 100,000 people are using Simpa solar energy solutions to power their homes, to power their businesses and to power their dreams.

Simpa’s innovative business model and technology has also created investment opportunities for domestic and international investors who are financing the solar revolution in rural India. Simpa has already generated over a gigawatt hour (GWh) of clean, distributed, solar energy. The company is pursuing its plan to install 100MW rooftop solar in rural India by 2020.

SunCulture selected as a finalist for two upcoming awards

SunCulture is amongst the finalists of this year’s International Ashden Award as well as the Start Up Energy Transition Award in the category Special Prize: “Start Up SDG7”.

Angaza shares best practices in delivering pay-as-you-go solar

Visit Angaza’s blog series on how to use keycode systems to deliver pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar in off-grid energy markets – see links as well as a collated summary of the three posts here.

ARE Energy Access Investment Forum

The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), in partnership with Energias de Portugal (EDP) and the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP), is hosting the ARE Energy Access Investment Forum in Lisbon, Portugal from 22-23 March 2017.

The ARE Energy Access Investment Summit on the first day aims to deepen participants’ understanding of policy and finance trends for existing and upcoming rural electrification business and engagement opportunities in developing and emerging markets. It also helps participants to understand the financial and technical support tools available for project developers and how to take advantage of them.

The B2B Off-grid Matchmaking on the second day will also feature presentations from selected African off-grid markets, including a presentation of key initiatives from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to boost rural electrification projects and tear down remaining barriers. During the afternoon, through face-to-face B2B and B2Finance meetings, participants are offered the chance to meet their next business partner or financier and to advance existing projects at different stages of maturity.

Finally, the Forum will celebrate the energy access work done and results achieved by the most passionate and innovative players through the ARE Awards 2017 and the Young Leaders in Energy Access Awards – an initiative of the Energy Access work stream of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership.

LuminAID’s Inflatable Energy Device Lights Up Syrian Refugee Aid and Charges Millennials’ Phones on The Go

Two inventors have designed a new product to respond to these evolving needs of refugees. Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, founders of the solar start-up LuminAID, have developed a portable phone charger that doubles as a collapsible solar lantern. The PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger contains a high efficiency solar panel that can recharge phones and power the integrated lantern. A collapsible frame diffuses light and folds down to about the size of a paperback book, and weighs even less.

LuminAID has been working to provide lights to refugees fleeing violence in Syria for the past two years, with pack-flat inflatable solar lanterns first developed as a solution for victims of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Their business has grown to develop lightweight solar lighting for disaster relief and camping, and phone charging capability has been a frequent request from nonprofit partners.

The new PackLite Max Phone Charger will allow refugees to charge their mobile phones to stay connected with loved ones, and can be inflated into a full-sized lantern that can output up to 150 lumens of light — enough to light a refugee family’s home or tent. The PackLite Max Phone Charger can run for up to 50 hours on the low lantern setting, so it will hold enough charge from a single sunny day to provide light over the course of a week for a family.

The PackLite Max Solar Charger was fully funded on KickStarter within hours on the first day, and has raised over $100,000. The solar lanterns raised during the Kickstarter campaign will be distributed through two of LuminAID’s nonprofit partners. SCM Medical Missions provide medical aid, food, and relief supplies to refugees fleeing Syria to Greece and Jordan. They will be shipping a container of relief aid supplies to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan at the end of March, which will include the first shipment of lights raised through LuminAID’s campaign. SCM Medical Missions have already sent over 300,000 lbs of relief supplies and medical aid to Jordan alone, and have sent over 1,000 LuminAID lights to refugees in Greece previously. Phone chargers raised through the campaign will be distributed by the Karam Foundation through their education projects this summer. The Karam Foundation works to support Syrian refugees through sustainable development and innovative education. They have already rebuilt and sponsored 30 schools, and supported the education of 8,000 refugee children.

LuminAID anticipates that the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger will be available for retail sale in the coming months.