Infraco Africa & Equatorial Power To Roll Out Access To Clean Power & Agri-Processing In The DRC & Rwanda
Equatorial Power’s business model integrates the delivery of productive energy with water purification, agri-processing services, business incubation and e-mobility. This is in line with its vision to provide universal access to productive electricity and clean water in a truly holistic approach centered around the customer and enabled by the latest technology.
Equatorial’s website says, “We are pioneering mini-grids 2.0 and working to validate a productive mini-grid asset class. With in-house project development, construction and operational capacity, we aim to leverage our local and international strategic corporate partnerships to scale-up our holistic, distributed utility model and accelerate rural service delivery across many more countries.”
Equatorial Power believes that this can be achieved in Africa over the next 10 years. Delivering the energy-water-agri-processing nexus is fundamental to a commercially viable, scalable and consumer-facing business model that can accelerate delivery of productive energy in rural areas. Equatorial Power owns and operates agri-processing hubs (APHs), offering local communities access to services such as water purification, cold storage, fish drying, and maize milling, creating an anchor load for the mini-grid while closing gaps in local value chains and promoting economic development. Equatorial Power also offers Business Incubation Programmes designed to foster productive use of clean energy through appliance financing and skills training.
To help catalyze this vision, InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed an agreement with Equatorial Power (EP), committing US$1.7m to scale the company’s innovative mini-grid model in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
The project will see the companies co-develop 4 new mini-grids and 4 agri-processing hubs (APHs) on Idjwi Island, DRC, followed by a further 4 solar mini-grids and 3 APHs in south-east Rwanda. This will provide smaller businesses with access to electricity, creating jobs directly and through the local supply chain, supporting SDG 8. Ranging in size from 60kW to 85kW, the new mini grids will incorporate battery storage to manage fluctuating sunshine during the countries’ rainy seasons. It is anticipated that the project will deliver about 3,330 connections to low income consumers in DRC and 2,500 in Rwanda, providing over 35,000 people with clean energy access by 2023, supporting SDG 7 and SDG 13.
InfraCo Africa has leveraged a US$1.35m capital grant from its sister company, PIDG Technical Assistance (PIDG TA), to support the project, and the World Bank has committed US$1.054m of grant funding for the rollout in the DRC.
InfraCo Africa’s Head of Business Development, Nabil Saimi, said: “InfraCo Africa has a strong track record of delivering mini-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa and we are pleased to bring our expertise to Rwanda and DRC, both of which are new countries for us to invest into. We are committed to delivering access to clean power and are excited to support EP’s innovative approach to coupling power access with agri-processing and other vital stimuli for employment and economic development.”
Equatorial Power’s Head of Business Development, Dario Fallara, said: “We are happy to have the right partner to accompany us on our journey to go beyond electrons and offer modern and sustainable rural infrastructure services to the people of DRC and Rwanda.”
This deal is a major boost for energy access. 600 million people in Africa still don’t have access to electricity. About 50% of them live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Having these projects in the DRC will go a long way in providing energy access where it is needed the most.
Image from Infraco Africa
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