After $19M equity round, Kenya’s M-Kopa is set to deliver solar power to a million homes
Renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa have attracted over $25 billion in investments to date. The African Union recently announced a plan to invest another $20 billion. Yet it’s an investment of just 50 cents a day that could make the biggest difference for renewable energy in Africa.
With an up-front cost of 35 dollars and daily payment of 50 cents for one year, Kenyans, Ugandans, and Tanzanians who live off-the-grid can get energy access through solar company M-Kopa. This month the company closed a $19 million financing round led by Generation Investment Management, and revealed plans to reach one million homes in East Africa by the end of 2017. It already reaches 275,000 homes. Yet, M-Kopa’s key innovation is using the mobile phone to show how solar energy can be marketed at scale in Africa.
With hundreds of millions of people in Africa without access to traditional electricity grids, the issue has come to the fore in recent years, as more African leaders, industrialists and international partners see the lack of regular electricity as one of the key obstacles to the continent’s development. In the absence of the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to build new power grids, more attention has been paid to innovative, green-friendly alternative forms of power. Solar has always been at the top of that list of options but it has also always been difficult to get the technology to work at large scale with many homes. M-Kopa, which was founded in 2012, believes it is proving how to meet that challenge.