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Member Highlights – October 2016 | Energy Access Practitioner Network

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Member Highlights – October 2016

SunFunder reaches first close of the $50m Beyond The Grid Solar Fund

SunFunder recently announced the first close of its new $50 million Beyond The Grid Solar Fund, this first round amounting to $21 million backed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), MCE Social Capital and The Rockefeller Foundation.

The new fund dramatically increases the size and range of SunFunder’s debt finance offerings for solar in Africa, Asia and other emerging markets. SunFunder’s customers – the solar entrepreneurs deploying solar products and projects – are expanding, both in terms of size and geography and in the sophistication of the appliances and services they can offer alongside solar. They need increasingly more debt financing as they sell more pay-as-you-go solar home systems, distribute more solar lanterns, and develop commercial and industrial scale solar projects to power businesses as well as households.

This fund will thus be deployed immediately for SunFunder’s pipeline of solar projects and businesses needing debt finance to scale. SunFunder will also be expanding some of its new financial products for the sector, such as  SAFI (a structured receivables finance solution for pay-as-you-go solar companies), and moving into commercial-scale project financings.


Mobisol Launches MobiShops in Kenya; Receives Investment from Investec Asset Management

Mobisol Group, a leading German solar home and business systems firm, has partnered with battery and energy provider Chloride Exide Kenya Limited (CEKL) to launch MobiShops, marking the official expansion of Mobisol’s high tech solar systems into Kenya. Building on their success in Tanzania and Rwanda, Mobisol launched in Kenya to provide reliable and affordable high-quality solar systems (80 to 200 Watt) and appliances. The systems are capable of illuminating entire households with efficient LED bulbs and allow for running large 32“ flat-screen TVs, stereos, DC fridges, and also provide recharge capabilities for consumer appliances such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

The systems have the capacity to power smaller businesses such as barbershops, phone charging stations, restaurants or village cinemas – which truly distinguishes them from their Kenyan competitors.

Mobisol and Chloride Exide have set themselves ambitious targets, expecting to provide access to clean and reliable solar power for 500,000 Kenyans by the end of 2018.

Additionally, in October, Mobisol welcomed Investec Asset Management as a significant shareholder. The deal will allow Mobisol to accelerate its growth in its existing markets and support its expansion into new markets in Africa. Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbh (DEG), which has been a shareholder since 2015 and has been accompanying Mobisol GmbH through different growth phases, increased its shareholding in the company as part of the transaction.

“Our partnership with Investec Asset Management marks an important milestone in the growth history of Mobisol. The investment and partnership with Investec will allow Mobisol to concentrate on scaling and better serving our customers while constantly innovating and reinforcing our unique competitive edge,” said Thomas Gottschalk, Founder and CEO of Mobisol.


SolarAid launches the “world’s most affordable solar light” and a new campaign

SolarAid, the UK’s leading solar charity, is proud to announce the launch of what is purported to be the world’s most affordable quality solar light, the SM100, in time for its 10th anniversary. The new solar light was developed by Yingli Green Energy Europe with the support of inventid, a UK industrial design agency, to meet the necessary price and performance specifications.

SolarAid’s objectives were to provide a tough, durable solar light for use in rural Africa, which meets Lighting Africa standards and retails for $5 in Africa in order to make electric light more accessible to the 598 million people in Africa who lack access to electricity. SolarAid has reached over 10 million people by selling solar lights through its social enterprise SunnyMoney since it launched in 2006.

During August 2016 nine thousand SM100s were distributed in Uganda, Malawi and Zambia through SunnyMoney, which sell lights via school networks and local enterprises. The solar-powered SM100 provides more than 5 hours of constant bright light and can be used as a traditional desk light, a head lamp or hung on the wall. The SM100 will retail for £10 in the UK, providing SolarAid with the funds to distribute two more SM100 lights in Africa for every one that is bought in the UK.


Schneider Electric Brings Electricity to Rural Communities in Asia

Schneider Electric has launched “Light It Up”, a corporate social responsibility program to bring access to electricity to rural communities across the Asia-Pacific region. From mid- September to early November, Schneider Electric employees will distribute more than 1,800 units of the Mobiya solar lamps to rural communities in 12 countries across the region, connecting a total of over 1,300 families to electricity and lighting.

With “Light It Up”, Schneider Electric employees, as well as sponsors from Schneider Electric’s partners and customers from 17 countries in Asia Pacific, have bought and sponsored the Mobiya solar lamps. The Mobiya range of portable products for lighting and mobile charging are an award- winning energy- efficient and eco-friendly LED lamps that provide up to 48 hours of lighting with one day of solar charge.


ALER partners with the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme to support renewable energy markets in Portuguese-speaking countries

Lusophone Renewable Energy Association (ALER) and RECP – Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme have signed a cooperation agreement to support the promotion of renewable energy markets in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Under the agreement, the parties will cooperate to contribute to broad and sustained market development for renewable energy (RE) in Africa. The objective is the mobilization of European and African RE companies for joint business development in Portuguese-speaking African RE markets.

The agreement will bring together African and European stakeholders by providing a platform to create joint business and project development in African Portuguese-speaking countries. This includes the translation of relevant documents into Portuguese, the active collection and dissemination of information regarding African Portuguese-speaking RE markets and international support services and instruments, and the organization of informational and networking events. The initial project duration is 16 months, running until December 2017.


GOGLA advocates for the continuation of fiscal incentives for all solar off-grid lighting and electrification products across the East African Community

Following the amendment of the East African Community’s (EAC) Customs Management Act, off-grid solar lighting and electrification products now attract taxation. While in theory the batteries, panels, and lights should continue to enjoy tax-exempt status, revenue and customs apply the new legislation in an inconsistent manner across the EAC. This leads to much confusion, increased cost of goods, higher retail prices, and thus, a slow-down of growth rates.

Recognizing the importance of this issue, GOGLA and partners are working closely together to remedy the problem. Following the joint letter sent by GOGLA and partners to energy ministers and the coordinated engagement of Energy and Finance Ministries, EAC policy makers are aware of the situation and willing to discuss ways of resolving the situation with sector stakeholders.

GOGLA and partners are committed to facilitating the reinstatement of preferential fiscal treatment for the entire off-grid solar lighting and electrification system. They are currently concentrating their efforts on two parallel approaches;

  • Short-term: seeking a simple clarification on the status of lights to ensure solar portable lights will not be subject to import tariffs.
  • Mid-term: submitting a request to the EAC council of ministers to reinstate preferential treatment for the entire off-grid solar lighting and electrification system.


National consultation meetings with policy makers, industry, and other stakeholders will take place in the coming weeks. For further information, please get in touch with Johanna Diecker at j.diecker@gogla.org. 


Kopernik releases new software – an impact tracker technology catalogue

Kopernik’s Impact Tracker Technology (ITT) catalogue features a compilation of low-cost information communications technology-based tools intended to help peers in the development sector collect data, communicate with their clients and measure their impact.

The ITT catalogue makes it easy for organizations to better understand the range of affordable impact tracking technology options available, empowering them to choose the right tools to suit their needs. It also displays relevant research findings so that users can draw their own comparisons.

In order to keep up-to-date with the rapid developments of the Information and Communication Technologies for Development sector and to improve overall usability, this catalogue will undergo regular updates over time. To learn more, visit here.


Save the Date: 4th India Clean Cooking Forum

CLEAN will host the fourth edition of the flagship forum for clean cooking access in India on December 5-6 along with previous forum partners including GIZ, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, World Bank and Tata Trusts. The main day of the summit will be held on December 6, while a clean cooking practitioners’ meeting will be held in the second half of December 5. The event will be held at Le Meridien in Delhi and is open to all stakeholders working towards ensuring universal access to and adoption of cleaner cooking solutions for millions of Indian households that continue to use inefficient three-stone mudstoves. More details on the agenda will follow soon.

Solar energy is transforming the lives of people around the world who live without access to electricity. But what happens to the solar revolution when technology breaks down? The Solar Fix is a short film that follows the afterlives of solar technology across three villages in the Indian state of Odisha. Access to solar repair services and spare parts is the hidden challenge facing customers and small businesses across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Solar Fix was made to support Urjaa Samadhan, a social enterprise that connects last-mile solar repair and maintenance services in rural India. For further information go here and here.


Simusolar, Inc. Launches Groundbreaking Direct Public Offering in California to Finance Solar Installations in Rural Tanzania

Simusolar, Inc., a provider of residential and commercial solar systems in rural Tanzania, has announced the launch of a debt offering through California’s Direct Public Offering (DPO) provision, which allows public solicitation and participation by accredited and non-accredited California investors.

The offering consists of an unsecured promissory note with a four-year maturity and a 7% interest rate, accruing annually and paid in full at maturity along with principal. Proceeds will be used primarily to finance receivables, specifically residential and commercial solar systems, which customers pay off incrementally through mobile payments. The target raise is $300,000 with an upper limit of $500,000.

By letting customers pay incrementally, using their mobile phones, the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model makes otherwise unaffordable systems accessible to off-grid consumers. PAYG has taken off in East Africa, where mobile money is well-entrenched, and hundreds of thousands of families have replaced expensive, highly-polluting kerosene with clean, affordable solar power.

Simusolar is a for-profit business that targets social and environmental impact alongside commercial success. At scale, the for-profit model will ensure sustainable impact without reliance on charitable contributions or grants. With 76% of Tanzanians – nearly 40 million people – living without electricity, both the market opportunity and the impact potential are clear. Sales targets are 5,000 systems in 2017, doubling each year through 2020 and reaching 200,000 by 2024. Simusolar distinguishes itself from peers by offering commercial packages like solar-powered fishing lights and irrigation pumps in addition to residential systems, a strategy that magnifies impact and improves credit quality by providing income-generating opportunities for customers.

For more information and to access the Prospectus and other offering documents, visit the website at http://www.simusolar.com.