The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa signs its first projects in Liberia

The two first agreements under the EUR 108 million facility have been signed with companies promoting energy access for low-income customers in the rural areas of Liberia: Mobile Power Limited and Lib Solar (Liberia) Limited. The total value of the contracts is EUR 2.9 million.

“We are very pleased to announce the first projects under BGFA by two innovative energy companies active in the market. The programme supports early-stage energy service companies to grow sustainably in rural communities and develop clean energy access within these communities. Since Liberia is an early-stage market for off-grid energy solutions, and in response to the immense financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, these innovative companies qualify for launch-to-scale funding as part of our differentiated offer to energy service providers,” comments Ash Sharma, Vice President of Green Transition Special Funds Unit at Nefco and Head of Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa.

Mobile Power has secured funding to develop its subsidiary in Liberia by establishing over 9,000 clean and affordable energy service subscriptions during a four-year period. These subscriptions will be delivered through an innovative business model that entails short-term rentals of solar-charged batteries to households, electric vehicles, and small businesses for powering productive use appliances (battery as a service). The subsidiary established its first Liberian MOPO Hub in 2020. Mobile Power has invested in technology to create the MOPO Battery and now has profitable battery sharing networks with over 3.5 million rentals, doubling in size every year. The batteries can be widely used, for example, to charge mobile phones, power electric vehicles, external light bulbs, run TVs, and provide household energy for 24 hours. Mobile Power will work with EcoPower Liberia, a firm engaged in the provision of electrical and solar installation services, for the technical establishment of the subsidiary’s additional MOPO Hubs.

“Our unique pay-per-use battery-sharing network has shown transformative results in communities across Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile Power was established with the belief that Sub-Saharan Africa could be transformed if existing local entrepreneurship and unmet customer demand were unlocked through innovative technology. Every week, we launch new solar-powered hubs in partnership with communities, enabling customers to rent batteries from local agents. The battery-sharing service reaches across the affordability spectrum because it requires no deposit, no debt, and allows customers to rent as little or as often as they like. The partnership with Nefco further validates our vision for net zero energy and electric transport for all,” said Luke Burras, COO at Mobile Power.

LIB Solar will deploy BGFA funding to scale up its existing business in the West African nation by selling a total of up to 72,000 new high-quality, clean and affordable energy service subscriptions over four years. Since its establishment in Liberia, LIB Solar has provided over 23,000 solar home systems in the country through its range of products. The support provided by BGFA is considered essential for LIB Solar’s mobilisation of additional climate finance to scale up its operations in Liberia. The funding will support LIB Solar to reach customers in the most remote and challenging areas of Liberia, especially the counties of Maryland, Grand Kru and Rivergee, which are considered not to be commercially feasible without the BGFA funding.

“We are excited to work with BGFA to expand access to high-quality, affordable lighting and refrigeration to our customers in Liberia. This results-based financing marks the beginning of a new chapter for energy access in Liberia, one in which all rural households will have access to the products they need to improve their lives,” commented Nicholai Lidow, CEO at LIB Solar, in connection to the signing.

The projects offer high levels of additionality, as support provided by BGFA is considered essential for the mobilisation of additional climate finance to scale up operations in Liberia. Off-grid energy solutions provide a cleaner, safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to candles and kerosene lamps, which are often used by low-income customers and customers in remote areas, while at the same time improving energy access for these customers. Renewable off-grid energy solutions reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease indoor air pollution and increase resilience to power access.

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa opened its first funding round in September 2020, including Burkina Faso, Liberia and a second stage in Zambia (BGFA1), and later two more funding rounds in Mozambique (BGFA2) and Uganda (BGFA3) in spring 2021. The facility is currently concluding the first round and will announce further supported projects in Burkina Faso, Zambia and Liberia in coming months.

For further information, please contact:

Mobile Power project: Kari Hämekoski, Senior Programme Manager at Nefco, +35810 618 0660

LIB Solar project: Heli Sinkko, Programme Manager at Nefco, +358 10 6180 659

About BGFA

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa is a multi-donor facility established and managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (Nefco). Nefco is an international financial institution based in Helsinki, Finland, focusing on environmental and climate investments. BGFA is implemented in partnership with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, working to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency solutions in developing countries.

The current EUR 107.6 million BGFA programme was established in 2019 on Sweden’s initiative through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Sweden contributes SEK 835 million (EUR 80 million) from the Swedish embassies in the target countries. It has since been developed by Nefco into a multi-donor programme. Denmark, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, joined the BGFA programme in December 2020 and is now providing DKK 117.5 million (EUR 15.8 million) to support the programme in Uganda. Power Africa [add link], an initiative administered by USAID, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution worth approx. EUR 4 million (USD 4.5 million) over three years to help operationalise the initiative and develop a pipeline of commercially viable projects within the framework of BGFA. Germany, through its development bank KfW, has joined the BGFA country programme for Zambia with a focus on mini-grids, providing EUR 7.5 million.

Photo: MOPO Battery charging wall – Mobile Power Limited.

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