Category Archives: renewable energy

EAVCA: Fintrek explores Fintech opportunities in East Africa

This week, the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) with Intellecap Advisory Services released the Fintrek – which explores fintech opportunities in East Africa, new frontiers in fintech (defined as firms using technology to deliver financial products/services or capabilities to customers or others firms) and fintech investments in East Africa.

Asia Pacific and Africa have been harbingers of mobile payments and that is transitioning into fintech now. The Fintrek report notes three underlying factors driving fintech uptake as:

  • (i) the use of alternative data to generate credit takings of the unbanked (and deliver services to them cheaply e.g no need for bank branches),
  • (ii) peer to peer networks (decentralized collaboration, payments across borders, unregulated) and
  • (iii) the emergence of nontraditional players (telcos, wallets like Google Pay & Apple Pay, e-retailers like Amazon)

smartphones offer fintech opportunities.

Regionally, Kenya is seen as a leader in the region owing to its levels of deposit penetration, deep financial sector penetration, and smartphone ownership (at 44% compared to less than 10% for Tanzania Uganda Rwanda and Ethiopia). Kenya is where most fintechs are setting up, and Kenya-based fintechs have raised $204 million between 2000 and 2017 which is 98% of the funding to the region.

Funding: In terms of funding, fintechs are still in early stages as seen in the small deal sizes: seed funding provided 47 deals (averaging $447,000) and 60% of all funding was to impact areas renewable energy/off grid lighting and health care (microinsurance). Five companies M-KOPA, Off-Grid Electric, SunFunder, Angaza, Azuri) have raised $345 million (through debt and equity) accounting for 55% of the funding between 2010 and 2017. Another finding was that while 53% of all funding between 2010 and 2017 was from venture capital funds, their average deal size  ($6 million – e.g. from Apis, Madison Dearborn)  is lower than those of corporates ($15 million – e.g. from Stanbic, Commercial Bank of Africa) and foundations ($10 million – e.g. from Calvert, Emerson, Omidyar Network) deals.

Fintechs needs a balance of debt and equity investments to grow, but they are struggling to get debt financing (mainly bank loans). Fintechs in East Africa had debt-equity ratios of 1:1 compared to 3:1 globally, indicating they have capacity to absorb more debt but are not doing it. The EAVCA report cites one of the funding challenges as investors want proof of traction while fintechs need working capital to demonstrate proof of concept, lack of funder knowledge about local markets, East Africa fintechs don’t look like what foreign investors expect, currency fluctuations make it had to raise debt and there is a lack of fundraising skill among local fintechs who can’t afford the teams that will enable them to raise money.

The Fintrek report identified 11 fintech opportunities models and 47 sub-models and identified 4 sub-models that have flourished in East Africa:

Payments and Savings: digital wallets (M-Pesa, Alipay, Tigo pesa – which pays 7-9% interest and now attract high-end users), payment intermediaries (Cellulant, Direct Pay, Jambopay) and digital currencies (Bitpesa, Coinbase, Belfrics – a crypto-currency platform).

Lending: direct lending (Branch, Tala – with 1.8M customers in Kenya, Kreditech, Umati capital), P2P lending (Lendable, Pezesha – has 6,000 borrowers & 200 lenders), and lending aggregators (lakompare). Also, there is telco-based nano lending (M-Shwari, KCB-M-Pesa, Equitel – which issued $57 billion worth of loans – and telco-bank lenders in Kenya account for over 76% of total loan accounts, but only 4% of the loan values)

Financial Management: Insuretech (Bimaspace, BimaAfya, Microensure), Investech (Abacus, Xeno) and personal finance management – (Chamasoft, Caytree).

FS Enablers: (Jumo – credit underwriting for 5 million customers and 20 million loans), Arifu, FirstAccess, NetGuardian – fraud identifier), FarmDrive, Sasa solutions, Lendddo).

Some recent fintech deals in East Africa include Farmdrive (from the Safaricom Spark Fund), Pezesha (DFS lab), Pula (DFS lab, CGAP), M-Kopa ($80M – Stanbic, CDC, FMO, Norfund), Tala ($30M – IVP), Jumo ($24M – Finnfund), Mobisol ($12M – FinnFund), Angaza ($10.5M – Emerson), Flutterwave ($10M – Greycroft), Netguardian ($8.5M – Freemont), Trine ($8M – Gullspang), Lendable ($6M – Kawisafi, Omidyar, Fenway), Direct Pay ($5M – Apis), Azuri ($5M – Standard Chartered), Bitpesa ($4.25M – Greycroft), Branch ($2M – from high-networth Kenyans and funds – arranged by Nabo Capital)

Production of the Fintrek report was supported by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

See more of the EAVCA Fintrek report and other fintech opportunities at the 5th Sankalp Africa Summit on March 1-2, 2018 in Nairobi and see their private equity snapshot report.


Kengen the Geothermal Powerhouse

Kenya is the only African country that has successfully tapped the green energy potential of geothermal power and is ranked number eight in the world. Kenya’s 676MW geothermal output trails that of the USA (3,567MW) Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, and ahead of Iceland, and Japan.

The bulk of this geothermal power comes from the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) which supplies 1.6GW (80%) of the country’s 2.3GW electricity output. Of that 533MW is from geothermal energy, primarily from the Olkaria area near Naivasha, where the first wells were dug in 1950 and their deployment and production accelerated after 2007.

Kengen has 294 drilled walls with an 80% success rate, and part of that leap has been due to a Kengen-pioneered “wellhead technology”, which was done in partnership with Green Energy, an Icelandic company. Wellhead technology allows Kengen to tap steam energy within a year or two of sinking a well and recoup their investments faster (it usually costs $6 million to dig a well). In all, Kengen generates 75MW from 7 wellhead stations at Olkaria and one at Eburu.

Kengen’s Olkaria IV geothermal power plant.

In terms of electricity generation, Kengen plans to have supply stay ahead of demand especially considering the long setup time for energy plants (about seven years). With funds raised from shareholders and investors in 2016, they plan to add 1,000 MW to reach 1,745MW by the year 2025.

Kenya has an estimated 10,000 MW of geothermal power potential, and geothermal steam allows high energy demand manufacturing such as steel, cement and glass processing take place. These are currently hampered by the high costs of electricity, but the separation processes of geothermal gases means that such companies can tap steam to use at their factories nearby and this is the strategy behind a planned Kengen industrial park at Olkaria, Naivasha. Already Oserian Flowers buys steam and pipes it to heat their greenhouses in the nearby area.

As at  June 2017, Kengen had a diversified mix of installed energy sources comprising Hydro 818 MW (including Masinga 40 MW , Kamburu 94.2MW, Gitaru 225MW, Kindaruma 72MW, Kiambere 168MW, Turkwel 106MW,  Sondu 60MW,  Sangoro 21.2MW, Tana 20MW), Geothermal 534 MW (Olkaria I 45 MW, Olkaria II 105MW, Olkaria IV 149.8MW, Olkaria I AU 150.5MW), Thermal 253.5 MW (Kipevu I 73.5MW, Kipevu III 120MW, gas turbines 60MW) and wind power 25.5MW (three phases at Ngong Hills).

Kenya has a liberated energy production market, and other private sector players in the geothermal sector who are seeking support under a private-public partnership program include Sosian Power, Quantum Power, and Akiira, as wells as Africa Geothermal and Orpower who are close by Kengen’s fields at Olkaria.

Tegeta Escrow

Yesterday Harbinder Singh Sethi and James Buchard Rugemarila were charged with obtaining $22 million and 309 billion Tanzania shillings from the Bank of Tanzania in what’s been dubbed the Tegeta Escrow case.

Perhaps the best summary of the Tegeta Escrow case comes from Africa Confidential (Vol 55 – N° 19) dated 26 September 2014 –

  • Heads may be about to roll after revelations about the contested transfer of 200 billion Tanzania shillings (US$124 million) from an escrow account in the central bank, the Bank of Tanzania, to Harbinder Singh Sethi’s Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited (PAP, AC Vol 55 No 13). The complex details of how Sethi acquired Independent Power Tanzania Ltd. (IPTL) and then raided the BoT account have now been pieced together by two opposition members of parliament, Zitto Kabwe and David Zacharia Kafulila, with the help of The Citizen and Mwananchi newspapers.
  • If Sethi’s critics are proved right, this is the country’s biggest corruption scandal to date. Based in South Africa, Sethi is a Tanzanian-born businessman with a reputation for dubious past dealings in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and the United States. Sethi claims to have bought 70% of IPTL’s shares from Malaysia’s Mechmar Corporation, now in receivership. Yet Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong (SCB-HK) claims to have purchased IPTL’s debt for $76 mn. in August 2005 and says Mechmar was already in liquidation when Sethi claimed to have acquired the shares.
  • The Tanzanian behind IPTL, former BoT employee and self-styled international consultant James Rugemalira, is also under investigation over the $75 mn. that he was paid by Sethi for his company’s 30% share in IPTL.
  • Both Sethi and Rugemalira have lived up to Kabwe’s description as ‘aggressive litigators’. Their strategy has been to steer the acquisition of IPTL away from non-Tanzanian jurisdictions (Malaysia and Britain), from other interested parties (SCB-HK) and lawyers, receivers and liquidators in Malaysia and Hong-Kong. In this way, SCB-HK’s property rights in IPTL have been summarily dismissed and attempts by SCB-HK’s lawyers to negotiate a compromise with Tanesco have all been blocked. Furthermore, the findings of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes over IPTL’s overcharging Tanesco for power supplied and the proposal for a solution involving SCB-HK claims have been ignored. Tanzanian courts have been complicit in rubber-stamping IPTL’s transfer to Sethi’s PAP. None of this helps improve the country’s image abroad.


  • The unfolding details about the Tegeta Escrow case resulted in the removal of four ministers back in 2014. On Saturday, the energy minister, Sospeter Muhongo, resigned over his alleged role in the affair last year that saw $180m (£116m) taken from the country’s central bank. The move follows the removal from office of the attorney general, Frederick Werema, the energy secretary, Eliakim Maswi, and the housing minister, Anna Tibaijuka, who was sacked over the transfer of $1m to her private bank account Chairs of three parliamentary committees have also resigned following the scandal: Victor Mwambalaswa, energy and minerals committee; Andrew Chenge, parliamentary budget committee; and William Ngeleja, legal affairs and governance committee.
  • Back in December 2014, Stanbic Bank Tanzania released a short statement on the-then parliamentary report on Tegeta Escrow and their role.


France & Kenya and Renewable Energy

Yesterday there was forum on renewable energy in Nairobi. It was organized by the Embassy of France and the Kenya government to show executives from French energy companies opportunities to invest in renewables and other energy projects in Kenya and Africa. Aqylon, Engie, GreenYellow, Quadran,  Sogea Satom, Total , UrbaSolar, Vegrent, and Vinci representatives were part of the group.

French companies built hydro dams in Kenya

French companies built hydro dams in Kenya


  • Large silent corporations include Engie which produces 3 GW in Africa and Vinci which has EUR  800  million of revenue, and 14,000 staff in Africa.
  • SUNREF from AFD/KAM provides tailored finance for green energy to Kenyan companies through Bank of Africa,  CBA,  Diamond Trust and Cooperative Bank. 11 companies have now been financed, and some that have got SUNREF green energy finance include KTDA, Meru dairy, Strathmore University, and Redland Roses.
  • Kenya has 10 independe power producers (IPP’s) producing 650 MW (28%) of its electricity – shows how vibrant it is for investors.
  • Regional electricity sharing in future: Kenya produces 2,200 MW, Ethiopia 4,284 MW (90% from hydro), Tanzania 1,583 MW (65% from thermal), and Uganda 900 MW (80% from hydro)
  • GreenYellow works with factory, malls, hotels, to finance & build (heat/cold/solar/light) systems that reduce their energy costs by 30%
  • UrbaSolar is working with Kenyatta University on a 100% self-consumption plant that will reduce electricity bills by 80% (20% is night).
  • Total is constructing a 40 MW solar plant at Isiolo with Green Millenia, while Kenya’s rural electrification authority (REA) has got funding to do a 50 MW one near Garissa.
  • KenGen which provides 80% of Kenya’s electricity, has tendered for an Olkaria 5 plant, and will build an industrial park there.
  • There’s opportunity in Kenya off-grid & mini grid electricity, but there’s no legal framework for integrating with the national grid integration & projects sometimes face land acquisition or compensation delays.
  • Solar has not picked up in Kenya, but with drop of photovoltaic prices, there’s lots of interest here now – Energy Permanent Secretary J. Njoroge told the companies..  He also said renewable energy is intermittent – it can only be used up to a certain % of Kenya’s electricity grid supply. Later there was  mention of CSP solar plants which are more complex & expensive than traditional PV ones which but do give stable solar electricity.

Chase & AFD to Finance Renewable Energy in Kenya

This morning, Chase Bank and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) signed a 10 million Euro (~Kshs 1.12 billion), 12 year, credit line for onward lending to businesses that wish to invest in renewable energy projects.

Paul Njaga, the CEO of Chase said that, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), the bank had committed Kshs 60 billion to SME funding, and that so far Kshs 20 billion had been disbursed. They had got $40 million from Proparco for SME’s and that the new funding will go to bankable projects in solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass etc. that don’t degrade the environment, as well as as for energy efficiency measures.

The French Ambassador said their renewable energy project, which was launched in 2010, has been great success; To date, $37 million has been used for renewable energy projects that collectively generate 22 MW, and some of these included mini-hydro plants at KTDA tea estates, and the Strathmore University solar roof. He said France has invested 1.5 billion Euros in Kenya over the last ten years, including project through Proparco, their private sector investing subsidiary.

The Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) will assist the projects sponsors on feasibility studies and technical support and AFD hopes to sign five more banks in the renewable energy scheme and extend it to Tanzania and Uganda.

Conversion: 1 EUR = Kshs 111, 1 US$ = Kshs 102.