US installer SolarCity is among the investors in a US$16 million funding round closed this week by Off Grid Electric, a company offering pre-paid solar systems in Africa.
Apart from SolarCity, infrastructure fund manager, Zouk Capital and Vulcan Capital, the private investment firm of Microsoft co-Founder Paul Allen, led this second round of investment funding for Off Grid Electric. The first round last year, raised US$7 million.
Off Grid Electric was set up in 2011 to deploy solar lighting across the continent of Africa, helping thousands to switch from using kerosene to solar. The company is aiming to bring solar electricity to 50 million homes by 2022.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said “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.” Providing access to solar will also improve education opportunities, living standards and business opportunities.
“This is a bet on a global solution,” said Samer Salty, Zouk CEO. “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.”
Off Grid Electric uses solar, LED lighting and lithium battery combinations to provide access to electricity for those with no grid access.
“We have the potential to change 1 billion lives by making solar accessible and affordable to everyone," said Off Grid Electric CEO, Xavier Helgesen.
Off Grid Electric has already brought Tanzania the highest solar adoption rates in the world, providing solar energy for less than US$0.20 a day and up to 50 times more light than fossil fuels.
This is the second investment in Off Grid Electric for SolarCity and Vulcan, while Zouk Capital was seeking environmental projects to invest in this year.
For 2015, Off Grid Electric has made a “number of engineering and operational breakthroughs that will dramatically increase our product offering and the quality of service,” said Helgesen. “We can barely keep up with demand right now.”