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The Nordic Development Fund Joins Energy Fund To Support Access To Energy (A2E) Businesses In Sub-Saharan Africa

Although 18% of the world’s population live in Africa, less than 6% of global energy use is from Africa. 600 million Africans still lack access to electricity, with about 50% of them living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Some countries, such as Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda, are on track for full access by 2030 and can be good examples for other countries to follow. While 160 million Africans gained access to electricity over the years 2010‐19, a lot more needs to be done, and fast! To ensure that universal access to affordable electricity is achieved by 2030,  connections to over 70 million people will need to be added per year! This would essentially mean tripling the current rate of connections, according to the IEA’s latest Africa Energy Outlook report.

So, there is a lot of work to do to ensure that we have a shot at meeting these targets that are aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goal 7. Businesses in the A2E sector need all the help they can get. A lot of them will need help with capacity building in critical areas such as access to finance and technical assistance.

As the rate of electrification struggles to keep up with population growth and destabilizing forces, such as the pandemic and inflation which cause frequent disruptions, alternative sources for sustainable energy are in critical demand. The Energy Entrepreneurs Growth Fund (EEGF) is a blended investment fund that supports early-growth Access to Energy (A2E) businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. It supports all types of companies operating in the access to energy value chain, aiming to contribute to the development of the entire off-grid energy ecosystem and providing benefits to all stakeholders. Managed by Triple Jump, the fund is designed to offer patient, risk-tolerant, and flexible capital combined with targeted technical assistance. This type of capital addresses an important gap in the sector and seeks to provide a bridge towards bringing in commercial scale-up investors.

Studies have shown that mini-grid and off-grid sources can play a key role in future access to energy, with drastically less startup and operational costs than conventional infrastructure. EEGF’s investment strategy reflects this reality, allocating up to 80% to solar home system companies, commercial and industrial companies, and mini-grids, while 20% is reserved for ‘Enablers’, which are technology companies specializing in a specific part of the A2E value chain, enabling overall sector professionalization.

The Nordic Development Fund has now also joined  the EEGF as a key investor. Isabel Leroux, Program Manager at NDF, says, “EEGF can have a remarkable impact on building resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is at the very core of NDF’s strategic focus. Focusing their investment on A2E enterprises which support off-grid homes and small businesses, especially in rural communities, the Fund looks for long-lasting solutions with an innovative approach and a focus on gender equality. It is a very welcome addition to our investment portfolio.”

One of the ways EEGF provides capacity development and de-risks investment is through its Engine Room Support, a support stream that is engaged throughout the investment process, from initial due diligence to the post-investment period. Another critical stream is the Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), a support structure made possible with grant financing from NDF and other investors. According to Jan-Henrik Kuhlmann, Head of Direct Investments at Triple Jump, TAF was designed “to develop a scalable and investable off-grid A2E market that serves its consumers best and contributes to a long-lasting positive impact on quality of life, the economy, and the environment.” This blend of active support and capacity development can be absolutely crucial for the A2E sector.

The EEGF was created by the Shell Foundation and FMO (Dutch Development Bank) and co-funded by FinDev Canada, and now NDF. The EEGF is managed by the leading impact investor Triple Jump and advised by Persistent, a pioneer venture builder in Africa’s renewable sector.

 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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