Power utility partners with telecoms firm to invest in solar for Cote d’Ivoire

Out-Law News | 17 Nov 2017 | 4:11 pm | 1 min. read

Off-grid solar firm Lumos Global has teamed up with African telecoms provider MTN to launch a nationwide solar power electricity service for Cote d'Ivoire.

Lumos said the service, which consumers pay for using their mobile phone credit, is available “to all of the roughly 10.5 million subscribers” of MTN Cote d'Ivoire under an agreement between the two companies.

“The Lumos Mobile Electricity Service aims to bring power to millions of people who do not currently have access to an affordable, reliable or clean energy supply,” said Lumos, which is part of Dutch firm Nova Lumos Netherlands Holding BV.

MTN Cote d'Ivoire representative Frank Logroan said the services offered “a quality, affordable alternative electricity solution”.

Chief executive of Lumos Cote d'Ivoire Stephane Abrahams said on 13 November: “Today, the mobile energy revolution arrived in Cote d'Ivoire. Families and businesses across the country now have access to affordable solar electricity. We are honoured to bring our technology here, and we look forward to working with the government and stakeholders to increase energy access for all Ivorians."

According to Lumos, “it is estimated that only around 40% of Ivorians are connected to the national electricity grid”.

Lumos' service has been available in neighbouring Nigeria since 2016 and the group said it has “experienced rapid growth, with more than 65,000 systems sold and 250,000 people have been provided with electricity”.

Last December, Lumos announced $90 million in fundraising to highlight “the growing business maturity of off-grid small business and residential solar systems”.

The funding round was comprised of a series of commitments, including $50m of debt funding from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – the US government's development finance institution – and a total of $40m of equity. The equity was raised from a consortium led by Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund – the African infrastructure investor, and existing investors VLTCM and ICV.

Lumos said its service is “enabling thousands of children to study into the evening, and powers clinics and community centres across Nigeria… and stands to have the same impact in Cote d'Ivoire.”

A report published in 2016 by the global mobile operators' association GSMA (73-page / 7.83 MB PDF) said “sub-Saharan Africa continued to account for the majority of live mobile money services (52%)”.

GSMA said growth in mobile money services in 2015 across West Africa “was dramatic, with Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire all contributing to the substantive regional turnaround”.

Earlier this year, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said mobile banking services in Africa would be stepped up under an agreement it had signed with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.

The AfDB said the memorandum of understanding signed by the two would “strengthen the technical capacity of financial regulators and policy-makers across the continent to implement substantive policy reforms to advance financial inclusion”.