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Clean Power

A Consortium Led By IBL Group To Purchase Majority Stake In Equator Energy

Equator Energy is a fully integrated solar power provider headquarted in Nairobi, Kenya. Equator Energy also has a presence in Uganda, as well as regional staff in South Sudan, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. The design, installation, operation, and maintenance of its solar power plants is all done in-house. Equator Energy was launched in 2016 by Maris Ltd and Nvision Ltd. Its solar portfolio currently stands at 35 MW in operation, with an additional 17 MW in procurement.

Some of its recent projects include:

  • 4.4 MW solar-diesel hybrid plant for Turk Mine, gold mine, Zimbabwe
  • 5 MW solar-diesel hybrid plant for Golden Quarry, gold mine, Zimbabwe
  • 5 MW grid-tied solar plant for AfroPlast, factory, Uganda
  • 1 MW grid-tied solar plant for Milly Glass, factory, Kenya

Maris Ltd and Nvision Ltd have recently announced the sale of a majority stake in Equator Energy Ltd to IBL Energy Holdings Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of the Mauritian conglomerate, IBL Group, and STOA, an energy and infrastructure impact fund created by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD). Completion of the transaction is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions precedent, including the obtention and satisfaction of relevant legal and regulatory requirements.

The IBL Group works and invests in nearly 300 companies across 9 sectors in 18 countries worldwide. IBL Group has embarked on a ‘Beyond Borders’ expansion strategy that also saw it executing an equity investment into Naivas, Kenya’s leading supermarket chain, and (subject to conditions) a further equity investment in Harley’s, one of the leading medical and pharmaceutical distributors in Kenya. Naivas has over 90 supermarkets in Kenya.

STOA is an impact investor in large-scale infrastructure and energy projects in emerging and developing countries. With €600M of committed capital, 50% in Africa, STOA’s ambition is to provide populations with 1,500 MW of accessible, functional, renewable energy by 2024.

Maris says this exit reflects its successful strategy of making early-stage investments into ventures with scalable business models and positive impact in Africa.

“We are delighted for IBL and STOA to lead Equator Energy through its next phase of growth,” said Charlie Tryon, CEO of Maris. “Their experience and capacity will allow the company to reach new heights and markets and cement its leading position in the C&I solar sector in Africa.”

“IBL and STOA’s expertise, capabilities, and industry experience will bolster Equator Energy’s growth trajectory,” added Sebastian Noethlichs, CEO and Founder of Equator Energy. “With their support, we will be able to deliver even more innovative solar solutions to customers in existing and new markets. Their investment is testament to their confidence in Equator’s business model, team, customers, and markets.”

“After acquisitions for our Commercial & Distribution cluster, I am glad that IBL now sees an investment in the energy sector,” said Arnaud Lagesse, Group CEO of IBL. “When we developed our strategy in 2021, we identified renewable energy as a sector presenting significant opportunities to deepen our presence in the African market. As Equator Energy provides simple and integrated solutions in emerging markets where solar energy has added value, this partnership is aligned with our aim to be a pioneer in the energy transition.”

“We are delighted to provide our support to the exceptional growth undertaken by Equator Energy,” said Marie-Laure Mazaud, CEO of STOA. “Within a few years the company has managed to build a very strong portfolio of operating assets together with an impressive pipeline of very happy customers. As an impact fund, STOA is very proud to see that our investment will provide the affordable electricity needed to continue the industrialization of our core countries of focus in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the renewable energy generated will help Kenya and the other countries in their goals to increase their generation capacities with clean electricity.”

IBL energy’s expansion into the C&I solar sector on the African continent is great for the advancement of C&I solar adoption. As IBL Group’s growth strategy includes acquisition of companies that have a lot of real estate to add solar, such as Naivas and its more than 90 stores in Kenya, I think this should help catalyze the adoption of solar within the group’s business on the content as well as the broader C&I sector.

This is also the second move into the broader energy space for IBL energy this year. Just last month, IBL energy and Vivo Energy launched E-Motion, a company which will facilitate electric vehicle charging through a vast network of fast charging stations throughout Mauritius.

E-Motion is the very first network of charging stations for electric cars in Mauritius. To date, twenty terminals have been installed in different places on the island to meet the needs of those with electric vehicles in terms of reliability and speed. The locations identified are situated near highways, shopping centers, gas stations, health facilities, and hotels.

E-Motion will offer a subscription on an annual basis with three packages. When subscribing, the customer will receive an RFID card that has different options, dependent on the user’s requirements. Companies with a fleet of vehicles will have a corporate option to suit their requirements. The E-Motion terminal network is connected to Electromaps, a mobile application that will allow the user to locate the nearest charging station.

EVs and PV are a match made in heaven, and I can already see some great synergies going forward for the C&I solar business and the EV ecosystem. Africa’s C&I sector also has a lot of potential going forward as backup diesel generators have been a “permanent” feature in the C&I sector in a lot of African countries. The IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022 report summarizes the scale of back-up generator usage on the continent by saying, “In sub‐Saharan Africa alone, such capacity (of back-up generators) amounted to 45 GW in 2021, more than all the renewables‐based generating capacity in the region. Of this, 13 GW is in Nigeria, where 25 terawatt‐hours (TWh) or 40% of the total electricity is auto‐generated by industrial and commercial firms and households using oil products.”

There is a big opportunity for solar plus battery storage to help tackle these problems in Africa’s C&I sector, and therefore it’s really good to see all these developments in the C&I solar sector in Africa.

Image courtesy of Equator Energy

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