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Acumen plans to pump Sh7bn into clean energy investment

Thursday April 18 2019

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Solar panels. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

BRIAN NGUGI
By BRIAN NGUGI
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New York-based non-profit venture capitalist Acumen Fund said Wednesday it plans to invest $70 million (about Sh7 billion) to boost energy access for low-income populations in Kenya and other East African countries.

The funds will be channeled to its partners through its fund, KawiSafi Ventures.

“After investing $22 million (Sh2.2 billion) of patient, philanthropic capital across the off-grid ecosystem and impacting 81 million lives, Acumen saw an opportunity to drive energy access for millions of low-income people in East Africa and scale the clean energy sector,” it said in a statement.

“KawiSafi aims to deliver clean affordable energy to 10 million people, at least half of whom live in poverty, and will displace more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the next 10 years, to address energy poverty and help avert the current climate crisis.”

Acumen said KawiSafi has already invested $21 million (about Sh2.1 billion) which it said had benefited 4.3 million people and averted 360,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in the region.

“Acumen’s investing experience has shown us that Africa has a unique opportunity to solve its energy problem,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen.

“By building scalable solutions that can bring power to low-income communities that have lived without electricity for too long, we can create a seismic shift in off-grid energy, releasing immense levels of human productivity and minimising impact on the environment.”

Some of KawiSafi’s backers include the Green Climate Fund along with Steve Jurvetson, Chris Anderson and the Skoll Foundation. Acumen said as sponsor, it holds an undisclosed equity interest in the fund. “The energy landscape has changed drastically in the last decade, and we have seen proven, profitable businesses emerge that are already transforming how low-income people access electricity,” said KawiSafi’s managing director Amar Inamdar. “KawiSafi will fill critical market gaps to create a sustainable, off-grid ecosystem, supporting countries to realise their UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal energy access.”