Solar-powered off-grid energy solutions in Uganda supporting development in rural communities

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) has signed two new agreements in Uganda to establish new mini-grids and scale up distribution of solar-powered refrigerators in the country. Access to electricity and off-grid refrigeration will allow small and medium-sized businesses in rural communities to establish new ventures to support economic development in these areas.

The latest BGFA agreements have been signed with Koolboks Ltd and Equatorial Power Ltd to scale up access to solar-powered cooling solutions and develop new mini-grids. In total, EUR 3 million will be provided in results-based financing from BGFA to the two new investees. It is expected that the financing will mobilise up to EUR 6.5 million in additional co-financing over the coming four-year implementation period.

Koolboks is a company that provides solar-powered off-grid refrigerators and freezers. The company was established in 2018 and operated in Kenya and Nigeria prior to registering its Ugandan subsidiary in 2023. Its aim in Uganda is to provide sustainable off-grid cooling solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas, for example food shops and restaurants, allowing them to increase sales and boost productivity. With the financial support of BGFA, Koolboks plans to expand its business operations across Uganda, including the underserved districts of Ngora and Buyende in the eastern part of the country. The aim is to establish and service up to 3,300 energy service subscriptions in the coming four years.

“The BGFA financing will enable us to empower small and medium enterprises in rural areas by providing sustainable cooling solutions to boost productivity and income, while reducing food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. With our innovative technology and affordable PAYGO model, we are committed to bringing clean energy access to underserved communities across the country,” says Ayoola Dominic, Co-founder and CEO at Koolboks.

The Koolboks freezer can also function as a refrigerator and has an integrated ice battery, which enables long-term cooling when electricity is unavailable. The freezers, which can be installed with three different solar panel sizes, include integrated PAYGO technology as well as features such as LED bulbs to light shops, USB ports to charge phones and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to provide data on temperature and battery level.

Female customer using a Koolboks freezer – Koolboks
Female customer using a Koolboks freezer – Koolboks

The mini-grid developer Equatorial Power was established in Uganda in 2017. With the results-based financing from BGFA, the company is planning to establish 10 mini-grids on islands in Lake Victoria, with some 430 kWp solar PV capacity to be installed to service the surrounding rural communities. The aim is to establish some 3,100 energy service subscriptions by the end of the project implementation period. In addition to green power, the company will also provide off-grid appliances such as refrigerators and electric cookers to the communities.

“Equatorial Power is proud to accelerate energy access and promote productive energy use in Uganda. As we embark on this journey, fuelled by the spirit of innovation and collaboration, we are not just building infrastructure – we are building futures. With each connection made possible by the BGFA programme, we are one step closer to realising our mission of bringing light, opportunity and prosperity to every corner of Sub-Saharan Africa,” says Dario Fallara, Head of Business Development at Equatorial Power.

Equatorial Power has already installed one mini-grid with a capacity of 600 kWp in Uganda, on Lolwe Island in Lake Victoria, which has been operational since 2020. In addition, the company is working on developing the first grid interconnection project in Kiwumu, Mukoko district. Equatorial Power initially plans to operate the mini-grid as a standalone system and later connect it to the national grid. The company also operates mini-grids in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

“By supporting these two companies to scale up their businesses and operations in Uganda, we are able to reach underserved rural areas and support sustainable economic development as well as gender equality in these communities,” comments Tina Möller, Programme Manager at Nefco.

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa has so far contracted eight companies in Uganda. In total, it has contracted 28 companies across Burkina Faso, DRC, Liberia, Uganda and Zambia. Once implemented, the current programme portfolio will have the potential to reach over 8.6 million people across these five countries. The BGFA funding window in Uganda is funded by Denmark and Sweden.

For further information, please contact:

Tina Möller, Programme Manager at Nefco, +358 10 6180 651

Natalie Casey, Chief Business Officer at Koolboks, +33 7 6829 2463

Dario Fallara, Head of Business Development at Equatorial Power

About Koolboks

Koolboks is an innovator in sustainable cooling solutions and off-grid refrigeration. Founded in 2018 and headquartered in France, the company pioneered solar-powered refrigerators that integrate ice battery technology, superior insulation and payment technology to enable access to long-term storage without electricity. Koolboks offers commercial refrigeration units as well as solutions for storing temperature-sensitive healthcare products. Through integration with a PAYGO device and instalment payment options, Koolboks makes its 24-hour cooling solutions accessible to customers across Sub-Saharan Africa. With over 150 employees and distribution partners in 24 countries, Koolboks is rapidly growing its global presence, providing access to reliable, sustainable cooling through its innovative technology. Read more at

About Equatorial Power

The history of Equatorial Power is not just a tale – it is a beacon of progress illuminating Africa’s heartlands. With eight mini-grids already brightening lives through 8,000 connections, the company’s innovative ‘energy as a service’ approach is reshaping the energy landscape. Its vision transcends mere illumination. Through strategic customer growth initiatives and pioneering agro-processing hubs, the company is not just expanding its reach, but deepening its impact and turning rural landscapes into thriving hubs of opportunity. With a committed pipeline that will provide an additional 20,000 connections in 2024, Equatorial Power’s journey is still just beginning – a testament to the commercial viability of delivering access to transformative power for catalysing socio-economic development and crafting brighter futures for communities across Africa. Read more at

About BGFA

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is a multi-donor facility established and managed by Nefco – the Nordic Green Bank. Nefco is an international financial institution based in Helsinki, Finland, focusing on environmental and climate investments and fund management. BGFA is implemented by Nefco, with the support of two project implementation partners. NIRAS is a development and engineering consultancy company headquartered in Denmark. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency solutions in developing countries.

The current EUR 126 million BGFA programme was established in 2019 on Sweden’s initiative through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). It has since been developed by Nefco into a multi-donor programme funded by Denmark through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany through its development bank KfW, Norway through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation Norad and Sweden. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution. Read more at

Photo: Bugarula mini-grid site on Idjwi Island in Eastern DRC Equatorial Power

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