Press release – December 1 2016
East Africa micro-grid developer PowerGen completes first close of $4.5million Series A from DOB Equity, AHL Venture Partners and private investors.
- Investment will provide nearly 50,000 unconnected people in Kenya and Tanzania with access to affordable, high-quality power
PowerGen Renewable Energy, a leader in developing, building, and operating small-scale electricity grids in Kenya and Tanzania has completed the first close of a Series A investment. The round was led by DOB Equity, a leading Dutch family office, AHL Venture Partners, an impact-focused venture capital firm in Africa, and private investors including Marc Beuls, former President and CEO of Millicom International Cellular and Billy Harbert, CEO of BLHarbert International.
Over 600 million people in Africa lack access to electricity, of which 80% live in rural areas. Connecting these individuals to national power grids has proven to be time-consuming, costly, and often uneconomical because of low population densities. PowerGen facilitates energy access for communities currently not connected to national electricity networks through the development of micro-grids (small-scale electricity networks operating independently from the main grid), offering these communities affordable, reliable and grid-equivalent power.
The investment will enable PowerGen to expand their current micro-grid portfolio, connecting over 7,500 customers, including households and micro-small and medium enterprises and giving power to nearly 50,000 people within the next two years.
Hayo Afman, Portfolio Manager of DOB Equity, comments: “Micro-grids can supply reliable power to a huge market in Africa and vastly improve quality of life for thousands of communities. We believe the market is nearing a tipping point with four forces coming together. First, with the continuous decline in solar panel and battery prices, the economics have become attractive for commercial investors. Second, utility sectors across Africa are opening up with a push for more private sector involvement. Third, more and better-tailored capital is coming into the region to fund infrastructure projects and lastly new, often tech-enabled business models are emerging, making development of micro-grids more replicable and scalable.”
Sam Slaughter, CEO of PowerGen, comments: “There are strong parallels between the African energy sector today and the African telecoms sector two decades ago. Back then, pioneers of wireless telecommunications made a big bet that African consumers would want world-class mobile communication service, and they invested heavily in the infrastructure to deliver it by building thousands of telecom towers throughout the continent. And the result is there: African telecoms have now famously leapfrogged the west, for instance, bypassing obsolete landline infrastructure and building mobile payment systems that many western countries haven’t yet seen. There is a similar opportunity today in the power sector. At PowerGen, we are building the energy system of the future in Africa.”
Charlotte Ward, Senior Partner and COO of AHL Venture Partners, sees PowerGen as one of the leading developers of micro-grids in the region. “PowerGen has been active in the East African micro-grid sector for over five years, and has already built over 40 micro-grids and hundreds of power systems in the region. What makes PowerGen stand out is both the deep experience they have building and operating hundreds of energy systems in the region, and the highly talented team they have in place, at both the management and operational level. We are excited about our continued and growing partnership with PowerGen.”
About PowerGen Renewable Energy
Founded in 2011 to address the challenges of renewable energy and energy access in East Africa, PowerGen’s Mission is to Transform Lives through Smarter Power. PowerGen is building the energy system of the future in Africa, with over 40 micro-grids and hundreds of off-grid, renewable energy systems installed across 7 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. PowerGen has over 60 employees, all based in Nairobi, Kenya and Arusha, Tanzania.
About DOB Equity
DOB Equity is a leading Dutch family office investing in impactful and innovative businesses in East Africa, with offices in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and in the Netherlands. DOB Equity invests equity and offers tailored financing, access to international networks and technical assistance to meet the needs of the business. With a portfolio of 11 growing companies in the East African energy, agriculture, education, retail and distribution sectors, DOB Equity is determined to further expand its presence and impact in the region.
About AHL Venture Partners
One of the largest and most successful impact-focused venture capital firms in Africa, AHL has experienced investment professionals on the ground in Accra, Lusaka and Nairobi. AHL invests directly in energy access, financial inclusion, agriculture and human capital businesses, and invests in frontier market funds. AHL Venture Partners enjoys long-term support from mission-aligned investors. Since 2008, AHL has committed more than US $75M to 31 impact-focused businesses and funds that operate across 27 different African countries.
About Marc Beuls
He is the former President and CEO of Millicom International Cellular S.A., a position he held from 1998 to 2009. Prior to joining Millicom in 1992 as Senior Vice President in charge of finance and treasury, Mr Beuls worked for Generale Bank in Belgium, specialising in project and trade financing in emerging markets. Mr Beuls graduated from the Limburg Business School, currently UHasselt, holding a degree in economics with a major in finance He serves as a Member of the Board of Directors at SES SA, Luxemnourg, a leading satelite service provider, Maris Ltd, a Mauritian holding company investing in frontier markets in Africa and Qaelum NV, Belgium, providing software solutions for quality control of medical imaging. He is the Chairman of APVAS LLC , USA, developing value added services for the telecommunications market
About Billy Harbert
Billy Harbert has been Chairman and CEO of BL Harbert International since its inception in 2000, following a legacy construction business that began with his father and uncle in the 1940s. He provides ultimate leadership and direction of all BL Harbert projects worldwide and guides executive management and our C-suite. Before taking over the family business, Billy worked as Project Manager and Project Engineer on pipeline and commercial projects. He graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Building Science, and from Emory University with a MBA.
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