Axian-owned WeLight secures funding to connect 250,000 in Africa to clean power

WeLight, a company co-owned by Axian Group, has secured 19 million euros ($21 million) in funding from a group of lenders including the European Investment Bank (EIB), to help 250,000 people in rural Madagascar gain first-time access to clean electricity.  
Axian-owned WeLight secures funding to connect 250,000 in Africa to clean power
Courtesy of Axian Group.

The group, comprised of the EIB, Triodos Investment Management and EDFI ElectriFI, a European Union-funded Electrification Financing Initiative, will fund the construction and development of small solar-powered mini-grids in over 120 villages in rural Madagascar.

“Africa has a unique opportunity to spearhead a low-carbon revolution while eliminating energy poverty on the continent” said Axian Group CEO Hassanein Hiridjee. “We are delighted that the European Investment Bank, Triodos Investment Management and EDFI ElectriFI are supporting Africa in reaching its clean energy potential.”

The financing will help to connect as many as 45,000 households and businesses in Madagascar to the nation’s power grid, enabling them to gain access to clean and affordable energy.

WeLight is owned by pan-African conglomerate Axian Group, as well as Norway’s sovereign development bank Norfund and Sagemcom, a firm that installs mini grids and smart metering solutions across sub-Saharan Africa.

Decarbonisation and climate risk have been at the top of the Davos 2023 agenda this week. According to World Economic Forum research, climate-related risk disruptions, such as heatwaves, have surged by 96 percent in the past year alone while the top four most severe risks over the next 10 years are all environmental.

Axian launched New Energy Africa (NEA) in October, a division that will drive investment in both present and future renewable-energy projects across the continent. Acting on behalf of energy distributers, NEA offers clean power solutions to commercial and industrial operators.

On January 17, Axian’s NEA closed a 10-million-euro credit facility to help finance a 20 MW solar plant, the largest in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean. It’s the second phase of an existing power plant project that Societe Generale, GuarantCo and AGF helped to refinance in 2020.

With more than 40 percent of Africans still not having access to reliable power, the NEA will play an essential role in overseeing and coordinating innovative energy projects that bolster both energy inclusion and local socio-economic growth.

The International Energy Agency says that Africa is already facing more severe impacts from climate change than most other regions, “despite bearing the least responsibility for the problem’’.

The continent is home to almost a fifth of the world’s population yet accounts for less than 3 percent of global energy-related carbon emissions, the IEA says.

“Clean technology and access to low-carbon energy will be the foundation of the future global economy” said Mr Hiridjee. “The world is at a critical juncture, with the need for bold and collective action to decarbonise clearer than ever”.

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