Kenya’s recently issued target of universal energy access by 2020 has galvanized the decentralized energy market, with companies looking to capitalize on Kenya’s rapid growth. The latest entrant is Berlin-based company Mobisol, who announced plans to open in the East African hub, along with an influx of new equity financing to fuel the expansion.
In the last two months solar lighting and home system companies d.light and BBOXX also closed major funding rounds—both are also active in Kenya and the booming East African market (which accounted for 50 percent of all worldwide investment in off-grid energy in 2015, according to REN21). In this latest Mobisol development, a share of the company was acquired by global investor Investec Asset Management. The investment is an important milestone for the market, showing that traditional private equity is starting to flow to decentralized solutions without the backing of an impact investor.
Kenya has some of the highest rates of off-grid solar use in the world—30 percent of households without access to the grid use decentralized PV solutions. However there is still ample room to grow—the country requires an increase in power output of 5 percent per year just to keep pace with current demand, let alone to meet the Government’s ambitious goal of 100 percent electrification by 2020. Innovation in decentralized energy is going to be essential for the sector to scale.
“Being the East African innovation hub for pay-as-you-go technology, mobile payments and solar home systems, Kenya was a natural choice for expansion” said Paula Berning, Communications Manager at Mobisol.
Mobisol is looking to distinguish itself from the competition through a partnership with Chloride Exide Kenya, a battery producer and the first solar panel manufacturer based in East Africa. Paula Berning: “The solar battery and energy provider draws its knowledge from decades of business activity within Kenya and will help grow Mobisol Kenya’s business over its whole value chain” said Ms Berning.