U.K. Firm Raises $26M From Japanese Investor For African Solar Projects

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

A U.K.-based solar energy company has raised $26 million from a Japanese Fortune Global 500 firm to accelerate the transition to clean energy in Africa.

Pay-as-you-go solar solutions firm Azuri Technologies raised the funding led by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, a Tokyo-based integrated trading and investment firm. Other participation included existing shareholder IP Group plc, a U.K. intellectual property business that invests in tech companies, according to Marketscreener.

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Access to electricity remains a serious issue in Africa, with 57.2 percent of people on the continent still without access, the World Bank reports.

Launched in 2012, Azuri delivers solar home systems based on smart technology to customers in 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These allow families to watch TV and light up their homes.

Azuri has offices in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, according to Bloomberg.

The company claims to have sold 150,000 systems, impacting more than 750,000 lives.

Investing in African solar projects

The $26 million funding is expected to be used to expand the company’s solar solutions in existing East and West Africa markets while entering new markets, Techmoran reports.

African solar projects Francophone African tech
African children watching a solar powered television. Photo – AP – Shepherd Tozvireva

Marubeni Corporation was founded more than 150 years ago and is now one of Japan’s largest trading firms with global interests across energy, manufacturing, trading, and investment.

The Japanese firm has shown an interest in the African energy sector since 2018 when it invested in Tanzanian off-grid energy provider Wassha Inc, according to a press release.

An investment for an undisclosed amount bought Marubeni a 21 percent stake in the Dar Es Salaam-based Wassha.

While a stake in Azuri Technologies has not been disclosed, Marubeni has become the biggest shareholder in the company.

Azuri’s smart technology allows the solar home system to learn the typical power usage patterns of individual consumers before adapting energy output to manage the system to each consumer’s specific needs, according to a Marubeni press release.

The system also monitors and adapts to weather conditions to ensure that consumers have light at night.