On Monday 16th of July, the EDF Group announced the launch of two major cooperation initiatives seeking to expand its range of off-grid solutions and to develop local skills for the installation of off-grid solar-powered kits.
EDF and SUNCULTURE are exploring a new segment of the off-grid market: a solar-powered irrigation system for small-scale farmers.The EDF Group is acquiring an interest* in the Kenyan start-up SunCulture, a technology company that designs and sells affordable solar-powered water pumps and customized irrigation systems, bundled with ongoing support for small-holder farmers. SunCulture’s flagship product "RainMaker" - an innovative, internet-connected solar water pump - is smart, mobile, easy to use and helps save water and fertilizer. Specifically designed for small-scale farming households, this system is a low-carbon alternative to motor-driven petrol pumps or manually operated pumps. RainMaker is designed to help smallholder farmers in underserved communities improve productivity and profitability.
EDF will support SunCulture in the large-scale roll-out of its solution in Kenya and will help the company in its endeavours in West Africa. In the longer term, EDF intends to support SunCulture by becoming its leading industrial shareholder. To this end, EDF has invested in convertible bonds issued by SunCulture.
EDF will provide SunCulture with hands-on experience in the sale and installation of off-grid solutions designed for residential customers, as well as with its knowledge of Central and West African markets. SunCulture will also benefit from EDF’s technical R&D expertise in the off-grid sector, where EDF will oversee its design choices and help to enhance product performance. EDF will also set up financing schemes in order to help farmers finance these solar-powered pumping systems.
With this agreement, EDF is expanding its off-grid range and gaining a foothold in another high-potential market segment. At present, 60% of Africa’s arable land has not been farmed and only 6% is currently irrigated.
EDF and Energy Generation have pledged to train women in the installation and maintenance of off-grid solar systems.
At the same time, EDF is signing a partnership agreement with the pan-African organisation Energy Generation, which is working to provide electricity to rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa by delivering entrepreneurship training to young people, with a focus on the energy sector. The agreement signed with EDF covers a training programme called “Woman and Solar Entrepreneurship”, which aims to train women in the installation and maintenance of off-grid solar-powered kits as well as in other aspects relating to entrepreneurship in this field. Thanks to its experience in the roll-out of off-grid solutions, EDF will help to design these training courses. Energy Generation will be responsible for the delivery of this training at training centres specifically geared towards the energy sector. Upon completion of the programme’s initial phase by late 2019, around 100 women in Togo, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana will have undergone this training.
Founded in 2016 in Lomé (Togo) by the young humanitarian Astria Fataki, Energy Generation is already partnering EDF as part of the EDF Pulse in Africa competition, the aim of which is to reveal and support innovative African talent with a view to boosting the continent’s energy growth (more info at https://africa-pulse.edf.com)
Marianne Laigneau, Senior Executive Vice-President in charge of the International Division: "These two new partnership agreements reflect the spirit in which EDF is expanding its business in Africa: working alongside local players and always doing its utmost to ensure that our projects benefit the economic fabric of those countries where the Group is active. Following the large-scale commercial roll-out of Zeci and the recent launch of Zegha, we are now getting ready to expand our off-grid range to other segments, starting with that of small-scale farmers".
Samir Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, SunCulture: "EDFs commitment to partnering with local companies to create lasting impact represents an important shift in the way multinationals are doing business in Africa. We’re excited about this partnership, which gives us the opportunity to work with EDF to increase rural household productivity across the continent."
Astria Fataki, President of Energy Generation: “We are particularly pleased to have signed this partnership agreement with EDF, which is totally aligned with our goals and vision. Thanks to this training programme, around one hundred women in Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire will acquire the skills required for a future career that will provide them with better economic prospects. More importantly, they will also be trained to play an active role in their country’s energy transition”.
EDF, a key player in Africa’s off-grid sector:
African markets are major vectors of growth with unequalled economic and demographic expansion, resulting in growing energy requirements.
62% of Africa’s sub-Saharan population (600 million Africans) live in rural areas with limited access to the power grid. Off-Grid technology is an innovative solution that comes in addition to conventional grids, helping to address Africa’s energy challenges.
EDF is now selling off-grid kits for domestic use in two African countries:
• In Côte d’Ivoire via Zeci, a joint venture founded by EDF and the American start-up OGE. Zeci is leader on the Côte d’Ivoire market and employs over 400 locals for the sale and maintenance of solar-powered kits. Barely one year after its launch, Zeci had already sold 10 000 solar-powered kits.
• In Ghana, via Zegha, a joint venture founded by EDF, OGE and the Ghanaian CH Group. Zegha was launched in January 2018.
In both countries, the Group is seeking to capture a market share of approximately 20%.
Having operated in Africa for the past 50 years, the EDF Group has provided more than 500 000 people with access to electricity. For this purpose, the Group has set up rural connection providers in Senegal (ERA) and in South Africa (KES), which it continues to run. As a precursor to off-grid solutions, this experience has placed the EDF Group a step ahead and given it excellent market knowledge when it comes to the development of off-grid solutions.