Electranova Capital US, the energy cleantech venture capital fund, managed by Idinvest Partners and sponsored by EDF, has invested in Off Grid Electric (OGE), a leading solar leasing company in Africa.
The funds will be used to enter new African markets and to continue to scale up OGE’s effort, in partnership with the Tanzanian government, to power 1 million homes by 2017.
In most regions where Off Grid Electric operates, it is not cost-effective for utilities companies to serve customers and many customers who have been disconnected cannot often afford the high fees for reconnection. Off Grid Electric’s systems are designed to produce affordable, high-quality energy for current and future generations, by offering innovative, stand-along systems to a range of last-mile customers at costs lower than those of traditional kerosene lighting. OGE delivers varying levels of services using breakthroughs in mobile technology and builds its systems from scratch to incorporate every aspect of product design, distribution, sales, financing and service.
To deliver the energy needed at the right price, Off Grid Electric has invested in proprietary hardware platforms that bring together lithium-ion batteries, solar panels and the most efficient LEDs and appliances available. “We are relentless in our search for efficient appliances to pair with our state-of-the-art solar and storage systems,” says Off Grid Electric co-Founder and CEO Xavier Helgesen. “Our real intention is to light considerable parts of countries here. We want to provide an electrification solution that is different and much more cost-effective [than the grid]. We are really excited to explore potential options to partner with leaders in the energy landscape like Electranova and EDF.”
Matthieu Bonamy from Electranova says: “We are delighted to participate in OGE’s development. Africa is already experiencing a technological “leapfrog” in the energy sector very similar to what has happened in the telecom sector. The market has passed a tipping point and is expanding quickly but, as of today, 1.5 billion people do not have access to grid electricity. OGE’s management team has a clear strategic vision and their operational capabilities are ready and suited for scaling up. As Xavier has alluded to, we are very interested to explore potential valuable synergies between EDF and OGE”
Pierre Devillard from Electranova Capital, says: “The value proposition to customers is huge as OGE delivers, with no upfront investment, a complete service that goes much beyond electricity (to include TV or mobile phone charging for example). The idea looks “simple” but delivering it properly requires a full set of capabilities such as technical expertise, financial innovation and a deep understanding of the local market…OGE has those capabilities and is positioned for a rapid growth in this huge market.”