Kenya’s Powerhive partners multinational utility EGP in $12m deal

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Kenya-based microgrid electricity provider Powerhive has partnered multinational utility Enel Green Power (EGP) in a US$12 million deal that will see them build and operate mini-grids in 100 villages in the country.

Disrupt Africa reported in July Powerhive, which was founded in 2011 and partners utilities and independent power producers to provide access to productive, affordable, and reliable microgrid electricity to rural homes and businesses, had become the first company in Kenya’s history to be granted a utility concession to generate, distribute and sell electricity to the public.

The startup has now gone one better by partnering EGP, with the project requiring an investment of around US$12 million, 93 per cent of which is borne by EGP and seven per cent by Powerhive.

The project, developed by Powerhive, consists of a portfolio of solar mini-grids with a total installed capacity of 1 MW, to be built in the counties of Kisii and Nyamira. It will bring clean energy to 20,000 households, small businesses, schools, and healthcare centres, thus powering and connecting around 90,000 people to the grid.

“We’re excited to partner with a visionary company like Enel Green Power,” said Powerhive chief executive officer (CEO) Chris Hornor.

“Emerging markets will require major investments in off-grid energy access during the next decade, and this partnership – which combines Powerhive’s proven mini-grid solutions with Enel Green Power’s capacities as a market leading renewables company – is a blueprint for meeting that unserved energy demand.”

Francesco Venturini, CEO of EGP, said Kenya’s “rich and differentiated technology mix” in the renewables industry offers a unique platform for the business development of Enel Green Power in Africa.

“This country couples a low electrification rate, still in the range of 30 per cent, with one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates of the region, thus making this union ideal to implement innovative solutions able to integrate the electrification of rural areas with generation from renewables, storage facilities as well as advanced billing systems,” he said.

The project will also provide customers with an easier and more reliable payment system through the adoption of a mobile phone prepayment application.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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