British International Investment
11 October 2017

New $20 million CDC investment will help bring solar power for a million off-grid homes in East Africa

Sadiki Athumani, above, is one of hundreds of thousands of people using M-KOPA in Tanzania. After sunset, Sadiki is able to help his younger brother with his homework thanks to the M-KOPA light.

Since the beginning of 2017, CDC has been an investor in M-KOPA, when we made a $12 million equity investment in one of Africa’s fastest growing, pay-as-you-go solar energy companies. M-KOPA currently provides off-grid energy to 500,000 low-income households in Kenya and Uganda.

Its predominantly low-income customer base access lighting, phone charging, radio and TV on daily mobile money payment plans that are less than the typical cost of kerosene. And this week we’re announcing additional local currency debt funding which will help the company install solar panels in a further one million homes. Our finance, equivalent to $20 million, is part of a syndicate of lenders providing $80 million, the largest commercial debt facility in the off-grid energy sector.

M-KOPA customers who complete their payment plans are able to upgrade for more lights, TVs, energy-efficient cooking stoves, smart phones and water tanks. The company has sold well over 160,000 upgrade units to date – including 90,000 Solar TVs. M-KOPA customers currently enjoy over 62.5 million hours of kerosene-free lighting per month and on current estimates will save over 600,000 tonnes of CO2 over four years.

Welcoming the announcement, our CEO, Nick O’Donohoe said:

“M-KOPA is a remarkable company transforming lives in East Africa by providing affordable energy, financial inclusion and essential products for low-income households. It empowers its customers economically, improves people’s health and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Our equity and debt investments are aimed at helping the company build on its success and reach many more of the 600 million people across Africa who currently live without electricity.”

CDC is committed to playing an important role in supporting the off-grid solar (OGS) industry in Africa. OGS covers a broad range of products and services from small solar lanterns to mini-grids and commercial and industrial applications. It is a relatively nascent sector in Africa, so new business models and financing are being explored but access to local currency debt has consistently been in short supply for companies. Our new OGS debt initiative is designed to address the issue for companies whose customers pay in local currency, which we see as a key market need. CDC will be working directly with companies, as well as through local banks and select specialist debt funds, to deploy up to $150 million equivalent in the sector. In addition to providing finance, CDC aims to work with OGS companies, other lenders and industry stakeholders to strengthen consumer protections, improve environmental and social management and promote data transparency.

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