InfraCo Africa collaborates with Equatorial Power in US$1.7m agro-processing, clean energy project
InfraCo Africa, the African development arm of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has partnered with Equatorial Power (EP), committing US$1.7m to promote the use clean energy of and agro-processing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Under the project, the companies seek to develop four new mini-grids and four agri-processing hubs (APHs) on Idjwi Island, DRC, followed by a further four solar mini-grids and three APHs in south-east Rwanda. This will provide smaller businesses with access to electricity, creating jobs directly and through the local supply chain, supporting SDG 8. To ensure the success of the project, InfraCo Africa will leverage on US$1.35m capital grant from its sister company, PIDG Technical Assistance (PIDG TA), and the US$1.051m grant funding issued by World Bank. Ranging in size from 60kW to 85kW, the new mini-grids will incorporate battery storage to manage fluctuating sunshine during the countries’ rainy seasons. It is anticipated that the project will deliver circa. 3,330 connections to low-income consumers in DRC and 2,500 in Rwanda, providing over 35,000 people with clean energy access by 2023 supporting SDG 7 and SDG 13. InfraCo Africa’s Head of Business Development, Nabil Saimi, said, “InfraCo Africa has a strong track record of delivering mini-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa and we are pleased to bring our expertise to Rwanda and DRC, both of which are new countries for us to invest into. “We are committed to delivering access to clean power and are excited to support EP’s innovative approach to coupling power access with agri-processing and other vital stimuli for employment and economic development.” Equatorial Power is a de-centralized energy infrastructure company, which goes beyond electrons to deliver sustainable energy services to enable community growth. The company owns and operates agri-processing hubs (APHs), offering local communities access to services such as water purification, cold storage, fish drying, and maize milling, creating an anchor load for the mini-grid whilst closing gaps in local value chains and promoting economic development. It also offers Business Incubation Programmes designed to foster productive use of clean energy through appliance financing and skills training. Equatorial Power’s Head of Business Development, Dario Fallara, said, “We are happy to have the right partner to accompany us on our journey to go beyond electrons and offer modern and sustainable rural infrastructure services to the people of DRC and Rwanda” The new project follows InfraCo Africa’s recent investment of US$2 million in Savenda Capital, to be channeled towards the construction of the ZAMBIAFresh market in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. The purpose-built 6,400m² market floor will play host to fresh fruit and vegetables grown by farmers around Lusaka and across the country. With each unit being traceable back to its original producer, and the application of strict food handling and hygiene standards, buyers from small businesses and supermarkets alike are anticipated to source products at the market – meaning better sales outcomes for smallholder farmers and a boost to the efficiency of Zambia’s horticultural value chain.