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Sahara Power reaffirms expansion plans to support energy demand growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

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L-R: Director, EMEA, Oil and Gas Council, Pippa Brown, Managing Director, Asharami Energy (A Sahara Group Upstream Company), Olajumoke Ajayi, Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina, Head, Commercial and Business Development, Mariah Lucciano-Gabriel and SVP, Corporate Development, EMEA, Wesley Johnson at the Oil and Gas Council’s Africa Assembly in Paris.

Sahara Power Group’s Managing Director, Kola Adesina has said the company will continue to implement expansion plans through investment in diverse energy mix and partnerships to enhance the capacity of the power sector to meet anticipated energy demand growth in Sub Sahara Africa (SSA).

Adesina who spoke at the Oil and Gas Council’s Africa Assembly in Paris said the SSA region needs to build “robust capacity” to respond to “disruptors” in the energy sector by way of economic growth, rising demand in Africa, shifting energy mix, changes in the market structure and dynamics, growing share of private investment in Power, and in increased Regional Power Pooling.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook reports that SSA growth is set to pick up from 3% percent in 2018 to 3.5% in 2019, before stabilizing at close to 4% over the medium term. About half of the region’s countries are expected to grow at 5% or more, which would see per capita incomes rise faster than the rest of the world on average over the medium term.

“As a foremost energy provider in Sub-Saharan Africa, Sahara Power Group is committed to its target of increasing the Group’s generation capacity to 5,000MW via different energy mix. This, in addition to other innovative interventions across the value chain in the region, is being driven by ongoing investments and partnerships,” he stated.

Sahara Power Group is the largest privately owned vertically integrated power company in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Group comprises including Egbin Power Plc (largest private thermal power plant in SSA), Ikeja Electric (one of the largest privately run power distribution companies in SSA) and First Independent Limited. Sahara Power has five power plants across several locations with capacity totaling 2040MW, with potential for generation into the sub region through the West Africa Power Pool.

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Adesina, whose presentation focused on: “In his presentation “Power Sector – Shifting Patterns and Rising Challenges – An Operator’s Perspective”, said amid the expected energy demand growth in the SSA, the sector needs to tackle low electricity access and consumption, low Creditworthiness due to current tariffs, Inadequate Power Infrastructure and Insufficient Regulatory, Policy and Institutional frameworks.

“Half of Africa’s population lives without access to electricity. The industrial sector is responsible for more than two-thirds of SSA’s total energy use. Average Electricity consumption is about 150kWh per capita. Coal is still the largest fuel source for generation in SSA”, he stated.

In Africa, there are changes in the market structure and dynamics in the power sector because of a shift from a centralized, government owned, to private sector participation.

Already, vertical unbundling – the process of ‘unpacking’ integrated utilities into separate generation, transmission and distribution companies have been the preferred option for countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Also, there is the emergence of management contracts, commercialization, IPPs, and electricity regulatory and legislative amendments.

These reforms have had the most significant impact on renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region.

“A key trend is that there is an increase in investment in the power sector by independent power producers (IPPs), private companies and entrepreneurs, as well as development finance institutions (DFIs) speeding up the process of bridging this gap”, Adesina explained.

“There is growing interest in regional power pools across the continent and this could be adopted as a strategy to deal with the unevenly distributed energy resources and Africa’s energy problems. More affordable tariffs and an optimal generation capacity could be developed in the power sector through infrastructure linkages of power utilities and the regional power pools”, he added.

– Sahara Group

Investment

Releaf secures $4.2 million in seed funding and grants to drive industrialisation of food processing in Africa

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Releaf co-Founders (Image: Supplied)

Releaf, an agtech start-up that develops proprietary hardware and software solutions that makes African farmers and food factories more efficient and profitable, has raised $2.7 million seed funding in a round led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers with participation from Stephen Pagliuca, Chairman of Bain Capital and Justin Kan (Twitch). Releaf also secured $1.5 million in grants from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID.

The seed funding will enable the development of industrial food processing technology in Nigeria’s smallholder-driven Oil Palm sector while the grant will enable Releaf to provide working capital and other value-added services for smallholders and small-scale processors. Grant funding will support the training, recruitment and retention of more women and youth in Nigeria Oil Palm sector through the creation of both digital and technical jobs.

Nigeria’s oil palm industry is dominated by smallholder farmers, with 80 percent of local market share. However, production rates are low because many still rely on ineffective processes for de-shelling, including the use of rocks and inappropriate hardware. These ineffective processes also lead to low quality palm kernels which are largely unfit as input for high quality vegetable oil manufacturing. As a result, food factories are unable to purchase these raw materials and operate significantly under capacity. On average, food factories have 3X more installed capacity than utilization, which impacts the cost of food and hampers further investment into processing capacity.

Releaf acts as a bridge between smallholder farmers and food manufacturing companies with its proprietary patent-pending machinery, Kraken. Kraken can process any quality of palm nut into premium quality (95 percent purity) inputs for food factories. Releaf’s software connects the start-up to more than 2,000 smallholder farmers, ensuring consistent, large-scale supply. While palm kernel oil production is not foreign to Nigeria, Releaf’s technology and scale means it can process 500 tonnes of palm nuts per week. The software offerings also allow the start-up to receive inbound supply requests from farmers via USSD, provide working capital financing as well as collect proprietary data on supply availability.

Speaking about the new funding, Ikenna Nzewi, CEO and co-founder of Releaf, said, “our mandate is to industrialize Africa’s food processing industry. This round of funding enables us to develop and prove our technology with smallholder farmers in the oil palm sector. Given Nigerians spend ~60 percent of their income on food and Africa’s population is set to increase by 100,000 people per day over the next three decades, we’re presented with an incredible opportunity to feed more people, reduce consumer costs, and supply the fastest-growing food market in the world. Releaf is committed to harnessing technology to accelerate the economic wealth of rural, agrarian societies throughout the Continent. We firmly believe that a robust real economy is the foundation for long-lasting and shared prosperity for Africans and are excited to deepen partnerships with like-minded organizations, governments, and firms.”

This new funding will enable better productivity and accelerate the eradication of the menial and archaic processes that are prevalent across Nigeria’s oil palm sector and the agriculture sector as a whole. It will also enable Releaf to drive more value and profitability across the oil palm value chain, as well as support direct and ancillary job creation in the farming communities of South and Eastern Nigeria.

Rena Yoneyama, Managing Partner at Samurai Incubate Africa who led the round commented, “Releaf’s novel approach to operating within the value chain with proprietary technology set it aside from many agtech startups we have spoken to. We believe the firm’s thesis on decentralizing food processing would have a strong match with Africa’s economic development landscape for the next few decades. Ikenna and Uzo are the perfect founders to disrupt this market in Nigeria and beyond. We are thrilled to back them as they innovate in providing both agro-processing and financial services to rural communities and farmers.”

Iyin Aboyeji, General Partner at Future.Africa noted, “more than 50% of the goods in supermarkets globally contain glycerine – an extract made from palm oil – a cash crop that is passed down from generation to generation. The team at Releaf is building the agro-allied industry of the future from the ground up starting with palm oil which they have developed novel technology to aggregate, deshell and process into critical ingredients like vegetable oil and glycerine. Future Africa is delighted to back Releaf to build the future of modern agriculture”

Dr. Nneka Enwonwu, Country Relationship Manager, from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) said, “We are thrilled to partner with Releaf on their mission to improve efficiency and profitability for farmers and food factories in Africa. The founders’ vision and the team’s enthusiasm gave us confidence that Releaf will deliver real value for rural communities and create digital/technical jobs for women and youth. We are looking forward to their results and success over the coming years and continuing to support their work.”

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CEO Corner

Graça Machel Trust Appoints Melizsa Mugyenyi as New Chief Executive Officer

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Graça Machel Trust New CEO, Ms. Melizsa Mugyenyi (Image: Supplied)

Board of Trustees of the Graça Machel Trust, announces that Ms. Melizsa Mugyenyi has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and commences her tenure in this leadership role as of September 6, 2021.

A Ugandan by birth, and residing in Kenya currently, Ms. Mugyenyi brings to the Graça Machel Trust an impressive range of executive management and strategic partnership building skills, as well as extensive experience working in multi-country settings. We look forward to her leadership to expand our Pan African programming, nurture our diverse women’s empowerment Networks, and develop the necessary relationships to fortify our resource base and long-term sustainability.

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Ms. Mugyenyi will spearhead the conceptualization and implementation of a bold new Strategic Plan for our institution and take our work of social and economic transformation to greater scale and impact. The Board has every confidence in Ms. Mugyenyi and her ability to effectively steer our organization, in conjunction with our staff and stakeholders, to augment our impact on the African continent and expand our thought leadership globally.

“We are grateful to Dr. Shungu Gwarinda, who steadfastly served as our Interim CEO, driving us forward with a determined focus on advancing the rights of Africa’s women and children, and strengthening our institution and Networks during this interim period.  Dr. Gwarinda will be actively supporting this management transition and will resume concentrating her leadership in her substantive role as Director of Programmes.  We are grateful for her invaluable contributions to further the mission of the Graça Machel Trust”. said Mrs. Graҫa Machel, Founder and Chairperson of the Graҫa Machel Trust

To our valued partners, both current and future, we look forward to positively transforming the lives of Africa’s women and children together with you as we enter this exciting new chapter of our institution’s journey.

 

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Press Release

Pezesha Raises Seven-figure Seed Extension from GreenHouse Capital to Fuel Expansion of its Embedded Credit Infrastructure across Africa

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Pezesha team (Image: Supplied)

Pezesha, a pan-African fintech company building scalable lending infrastructure for SMEs and institutions, today announced the close of a seven-figure growth funding round led by GreenHouse Capital (GHC). In addition to GHC’s investment, Pezesha received on-lending liquidity support from GHC’s sister company Venture Garden Group (VGG). These financing milestones will support Pezesha’s continued growth across Africa and its mission to expand access to affordable working capital for SMEs.

Pezesha is solving Africa’s $82 billion working capital and trade finance access problems by enabling non-traditional finance institutions to offer working capital to SMEs using Pezesha’s lending infrastructure. The company has built robust APIs to originate quality SMEs and original credit scoring models that allow capital to flow efficiently and productively. Pezesha’s new partnership with VGG will expand the capital available for Pezesha and its institutional partners to lend to SMEs. Pezesha previously raised capital from Consonance and Seedstars.

Hilda Moraa, CEO and Founder of Pezesha, commented, “we are delighted to have GreenHouse Capital join the Pezesha family. We are aligned in vision as well as our commitment to solving the working capital challenges that are preventing African SMEs from achieving their full growth potential. GHC’s investment will catapult our growth by enabling us to scale our existing partnerships with the likes of Twiga Foods, Jumia, Marketforce, and Popote Pay, among others. More so, the investment will unlock our vision of building the operating system to power embedded finance in Africa”

Ruby Nimkar, Principal at GreenHouse Capital, added, “Pezesha is breaking down barriers to SME financing by taking an ecosystem approach to the problem of access to capital. Their embedded finance model is truly groundbreaking, and we have full confidence in Hilda and her talented team to take their model into new markets and continuously close the SME financing gap across Africa.”

Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO of Venture Garden Group, commented, “Pezesha’s innovative model is driving capital to the African SMEs that need it the most. We are excited to be partnering with them to expand their access to funds that they can use for their on-lending liquidity.”

Pezesha has scaled its lending infrastructure in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria and is planning to launch in Uganda in September of 2021.

 

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