SSF helps supporting the Energy Transition in Africa

MPower Ventures AG: Supporting the Energy Transition in Africa

End of 2020 SECO Start-up Fund approved a loan to MPower Ventures, a fintech and impact start-up in the energy access space which provides renewable energy solutions for private homes and small- and medium sized enterprises in emerging markets. MPower strives to scale through strategic partnerships with local distributors in Africa and supports them improving efficiency, increasing their outreach and product portfolio. In the future MPower also seeks to engage in solutions for recycling renewable energy products.

Since the 2000s, Africa has been experiencing rapid economic and population growth and the emergence of an urban middle class. As a result, demand for energy is expected to double by 2040. Endowed with significant renewable energy resources, the African continent has the great opportunity to improve the energy infrastructure for its population in a sustainable manner. African governments have recognized this opportunity and have developed strategies accordingly. However, to successfully conduct the energy transition in a timely manner it will be important for public and private sector to join forces.

In the past, MPower has demonstrated how economic cooperation and creation of development impact is possible within the frame of a commercial business model. In Cameroon, one of the six countries where MPower is active, the company has worked on two infrastructure projects. In a collaborative effort between MPower, local companies and the Cameroonian government, four communities in the far north of the country, a region marked by poverty and violence, are currently being provided with access to electricity and water. At the core of the project are decentralized solar systems that allow - without time-consuming and costly investments in grid expansion - to supply houses, churches, schools and also hospitals with electricity and important electronic devices.

In another project, MPower worked with its local partner and a community in the western part of the country to install 46 solar streetlights. The positive effects of street lighting include greater safety for pedestrians and motorists, as well as for women who spend time outside in the evening. Furthermore, markets and small traders can now offer their products after dark. Living conditions in some of the areas where MPower operates are challenging, and for many families such projects mean having access to running water and electricity for the first time in their lives. MPower's vision is to provide affordable, high quality renewable energy solutions to as many households and SMEs as possible, while at the same time supporting local businesses.