Our six-year Scaling Energy Access Markets in Africa (SEAM) partnership with The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Power Africa met its objectives and came to its natural conclusion in October.
SEAM improved the lives of more than 15 million underserved people in Africa, delivered over 3.1 million new connections, leveraged $441 million of additional financing into the sector, supported 45,000 jobs, and reduced carbon dioxide by over 386,000 metric tons.
SEAM impact highlights include:
New residential connections
We provided critical working capital to businesses that allowed them to adjust service models; find local partners and staff; and innovate technologies to meet specific customer needs, build business resilience and, ultimately, open up entire new markets:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Supported household solar business Altech with market expansion and Bboxx with market entry (now the largest private utility in the country).
- Nigeria: Facilitated the market expansion of Oolu and funded Greenlight Planet to expand their sales network.
- Ethiopia: Supported Belcash to expand into some of the country’s most underserved regions and supported d.light to enter the market.
- Mozambique: Facilitated market entry and expansion with SolarWorks!
- Tanzania: Supported implementation of low-cost domestic solar energy access with Jaza Energy.
I have become [self-assured] because of Jaza … and now I believe in myself. Jaza has instilled me with confidence and [now] I can go anywhere and express what Jaza is and what is does.
Jaza Energy Employee, 31 years old, Mchori, Tanzania
Innovative new alternative energy models
Our partnership facilitated the creation of new business models that blur the line between on- and off-grid with companies including Konexa and Zola. We supported Konexa to expand their distributed utility business model, and Zola to test their AC distributed mini-grid model, which they have since it launched successfully in Rwanda. The programme supported improved metering options for on- and off-grid companies with SparkMeter, helping to expand its customer reach, software capacity and research and development. We worked on incubating new diesel genset replacement technology with Factor[e] and supported Odyssey to build out its platform’s tender coordination and vendor marketplace. With Nayo Tropical, we tested procurement at scale as a method of reducing construction costs and hence improve commercial viability of mini-grids in Nigeria.
When I came to the community, there was no power supply. As a business man, life was difficult. The generator was consuming fuel, more fuel meant I needed to spend more money everyday.
Hujinus Eze, Nayo Tropical Customer, 29 years old, Kilankwa, Nigeria
SEAM supported the creation and growth of key trade associations, such as the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) and African Mini-grid Developers Association (AMDA), and strengthened local operating environments for distributed energy businesses in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Rwanda through three local market accelerators. SEAM funding further enabled the creation and management of the Household Solar Funders Group, bringing together 60 investors and funders to work on barriers to the domestic off-grid solar market.
Improved access to finance
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, SEAM tested new models of financing health centres with Odyssey and created the SIMA Energy Access Relief Fund to support energy-access businesses.
- SEAM made a catalytic initial investment into the SIMA Angaza Distributors Finance Fund, which piloted a new investment vehicle to enable smaller household solar distributors to access institutional capital, and applied a gender lens to its investment process with the goals of increasing women’s participation in the sector and generating greater positive impact on women’s lives. SEAM provided a second and even larger tranche of funding to help bring the fund to scale.
- SEAM worked with CrossBoundary Energy Access to improve financing options for the construction of mini-grids and supported Calvert Impact Capital’s investment in five new investment vehicles, creating more than $90 million of leverage.
- SEAM supported new investment incentives through catalytic early investments in the creation of Distributed Renewable Energy Credits (D-RECs) and the Universal Electrification Facility, a results-based financing facility to improve the economics in reaching underserved populations with decentralised energy solutions.
The working partnerships among Shell Foundation, USAID, and Power Africa – as well as other sector organisations including FCDO and SEforALL – represent a model for governments and foundations to leverage private sector resources to deliver social impact.
Although this current programme has ended, its successful results have positioned us for future partnerships with USAID and Power Africa and will drive the next phase of our relationship.