HomeIndustry SectorsFuture EnergyBattery rental for off-grid users in West Africa gets a charge

Battery rental for off-grid users in West Africa gets a charge

The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) has invested $1,364 million (£1 million) into a renewables-powered battery rental company targeting off-grid communities in West Africa.

UK-based Mobile Power was set up in 2013 to serve the needs of end-users who are underserved by existing rural electrification models in the regional. The company currently operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the world’s poorest countries where most of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.

The REPP funding, which comes through the UK government’s International Climate Finance, means Mobile Power can now rapidly expand its operations. The company also plans to enter Nigeria while supporting existing projects in Uganda, Zambia and Gambia.

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Mobile Power’s innovative rental model allows customers to rent smart 50Wh lithium-ion batteries at a low cost in 24-hour increments. Customers pay in cash or through mobile money, which makes the services accessible to people without mobile money or in areas with weak cell signal. This solution does not require a long-term commitment or create consumer debt.

The batteries are suitable for lighting, phone charging, fans, TVs and radios and are charged at solar-powered MOPO Hubs. The hubs provide a lower carbon option to other alternatives which include diesel generator-powered charging stations and battery-powered torches.

Different approaches to defining energy access bears fruit

Geoff Sinclair, Camco Clean Energy managing director (REPP’s investment manager): “Providing affordable energy access to some of the world’s poorest communities is a huge challenge for developers, but one that must be overcome if we are to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“Mobile Power’s novel business model provides a scalable solution that, with the support of REPP and the other Series A investors, has great potential for rapid growth and delivering far-reaching impact,” said Sinclair.

Prior to this funding round, Mobile Power had raised approximately $1,499 million (£1,1 million) in equity from early-stage investors and $2,3 million (£1,7 million) through innovation grants and loans in 2019.

Chris Longbottom, Mobile Power CEO: “The completion of this Series A fundraise represents a vote of confidence for Mobile Power’s unique approach to energy access, particular in those markets where traditional approaches are less viable. We look forward to scaling up and reaching many more off-grid customers.”

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a conference producer for Clarion Events Africa.