Tanzania’s Off Grid Electric raises US$16m

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Tanzanian off-grid solar energy provider Off Grid Electric has secured US$16 million in funding, with the company aiming to provide reliable power to one billion people in Africa.

The US$16 million funding round was led by SolarCity and Zouk Capital – both having made previous investments in the company; while Vulcan Capital – the private investment firm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen – also made a second investment.

“We have the potential to change 1 billion lives by making solar accessible and affordable to everyone,” Off Grid Electric chief executive officer (CEO) Xavier Helgesen said.

“For us, this is a bet on a global solution.” said Samer Salty, CEO of Zouk Capital.

“Off Grid Electric has the first truly scalable solution for their customers. We see them as reaching a million customers quite soon. Furthermore, Off Grid Electric is leapfrogging the Western world and proving that distributed energy is highly scalable, financially viable, and immediately impactful to hundreds of millions.”

In Tanzania, Off Grid has achieved the highest solar adoption rates in the world, with customers able to access a reliable energy source for less than US$0.20 per day.  According to Off Grid, their solution provides customers with 50 per cent more light per day than traditional energy sources.

“Off Grid is expert at offering Africans what they want: clean, affordable electricity that can allow them to grow businesses, improve educational opportunity, and enrich their quality of life,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.

“Many people in Africa currently depend on inadequate kerosene lamps for power, and Off Grid knows how to give that market more light at less cost.”

According to Vulcan Capital, Off Grid has the potential to support economic growth across Africa by providing a viable power solution.

“Off Grid Electric has the team, the vision and the technology to deliver distributed power to thousands, and eventually, millions of homes and businesses in parts of the world where grid electricity is non-existent,” said Vulcan Capital managing director, Steve Hall.

“The Off Grid Electric solution represents a massive market opportunity that will serve as a foundational building block to drive economic development in these regions.”

The current funding comes hot on the heels of a US$7 million funding round raised by Off Grid earlier this year; with the company revealing swift growth plans for 2015.

“We have made number of engineering and operational breakthroughs that will dramatically increase our product offering and the quality of service,” Helgesen said.

“We can barely keep up with demand right now.”

 

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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