Market News

Social investors inject Sh180m into off-grid power

PowerGen renewable energy firm’s micro wind turbines in Homa Bay County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
PowerGen renewable energy firm’s micro wind turbines in Homa Bay County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya has raised Sh180 million from social impact investors to expand off-grid connections for rural populations over the past year.

A report on crowd-funding for energy access by not-for-profit organisation Energy4Impact Africa showed private companies implementing low-cost alternative renewable energy projects in Kenya, conducted 2,000 campaigns on the Kiva crowd funding platform.

The report says participating off-grid companies raised funds to buy solar equipment directly from manufacturers which, they brought to Kenya and sold at subsidised prices on a pay-as-you-go model.

“Debt crowd-funding is the most promising and sustained growth of all energy access related crowd-funding activity.

“Compared to 2015 that realised Sh340 million on zero-interest microloans, interest-bearing working capital loans grew significantly in 2016 accounting for almost half of all energy access related debt,” it says.

Kenya was followed by Ghana with three campaigns, which raised Sh43.5 million while Mali raked in Sh38.5million.

Zambia raised Sh17.2 million through 16 campaigns.

Interest in off-grid projects continues to rise in Kenya, especially after the government signalled adoption of micro-grid technology to enhance energy access across the country, especially for areas located far from the national grid.

This saw 4,171 primary schools connected to off-grid sources of energy providing rural population with practical samples of the solar panels and equipment they need to acquire.

The report noted Kenya’s online crowd-funding platform M-Changa had helped bring together rural communities to raise seed capital.

The projects run over the mobile phone money platform see communities come together to guarantee one another thereby enabling them get the solar equipment installed where they make monthly repayments for a fixed period of time.