October 2016 – Mobisol completes the largest equity raising in the off-grid solar sector so far
Investec Asset Management, through its African private equity capability, has acquired a significant shareholding in Mobisol, a leading and rapidly-growing provider of off-grid solar home systems (SHS) in Africa in the biggest yet round of equity financing for the off-grid solar industry.
Mobisol, based in Berlin, makes rooftop solar systems that generate electricity in places that aren’t connected to the power grid. Their largest 200W product can power lights, mobile phones, a radio, a small TV and refrigerator. The company has 60,000 customers in Tanzania and Rwanda, and recently expanded to Kenya. It’s grown 80 percent year on year in 2016 and plans to move into Uganda and Nigeria in the next two years while continuing to scale in its existing markets.
A three-year payment plan makes the systems highly affordable while a significant proportion of customers are also able to generate income from their SHS, for example by providing a mobile phone charging service or by running productive electrical equipment in businesses, such as hair clippers in barber shops. The use of innovative mobile technology such as mobile money, allows customer payments and remote system monitoring to be carried out in a cost and time-efficient manner.
The off-grid solar industry emerged from non-existence a decade ago to a market worth about $700 million in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Pay-as-you go solar companies have mostly received investments from impact or strategic investors so far. Mobisol’s round with Investec breaks this mold, bringing in a private equity player and signaling that the sector is changing from impact-driven to a purely commercial opportunity.