The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is expanding its portfolio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with financing for Mobile Power, helping to support access to clean energy in the country. At least up to 320,000 people living in peri-urban and rural areas will gain access to electricity through hub-based battery rentals.
BGFA has signed an agreement worth a total of EUR 3 million with Mobile Power (MOPO) subsidiary MPDRC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to further support the business’ development. The results-based financing to be provided from BGFA will mobilise additional co-financing amounting to at least EUR 3 million by the end of project implementation in 2027.The company’s offering is benefitting low-income customers living in the DRC. Mobile Power was one of the first companies to secure funding from BGFA in 2022 to facilitate off-grid energy access in Liberia.
MPDRC established its local business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2022 with the aim to further expand its operations renting hub-based solar batteries from its existing markets in Chad, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. Utilising an extensive network of local field agents, the company provides short-term rentals of solar charged MOPO batteries to households and small businesses in remote areas with no grid connections to power appliances. The MOPO batteries can be used for a wide variety of applications, for example to charge mobile phones, power external light bulbs, run TVs and meet household energy needs for up to 24 hours. Larger MOPOMax batteries can also replace generators and power electric motorbikes.
The pay-per-use battery sharing service provides affordable energy access, requiring no deposit or loan financing and allowing customers to access power on their own terms. MOPO customers can access energy when it suits them and steadily increase their energy usage by renting more or larger batteries as they climb the energy ladder. This flexibility means lower income customers can also be reached, as the MOPO service does not require customers to commit to a predetermined level or period of service.
“Having successfully applied BGFA’s initial investment to grow our renewable energy-focused battery rental business in Liberia, we are delighted to gain further support to develop our operations in the DRC. We have a unique business model whereby solar-powered hubs charge our proprietary MOPO batteries, which are then rented to customers to sustainably power their lives. We have already conducted 14 million MOPO battery rentals across our current countries of operation in Sub-Saharan Africa and look forward to building our services with BGFA and transforming power access for hundreds of thousands of people,” says Chris Longbottom, CEO, Mobile Power.
BGFA’s results-based financing will help the company expand its range of mobile battery-rental hubs and create new job opportunities by enlarging its network of field agents.
“We are pleased that previous BGFA investees, such as Mobile Power, see an opportunity to unlock further investment and expand to other BGFA-supported countries. The core purpose of BGFA is to mobilise private financing and speed up access to modern, clean and affordable energy,” says Kari Hämekoski, Senior Programme Manager at Nefco.
As of the end of 2023, the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa had contracted two projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 23 across Burkina Faso, DRC, Liberia, Uganda and Zambia. Cumulatively, these have the potential to reach up to 8.6 million people. The BGFA funding window in the DRC is funded by Sweden and Norway.
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Further information about Mobile Power
About Mobile Power
UK -based Mobile Power (‘MOPO’) is a pay-per-use battery technology company focussed on the supply of sustainable energy to individuals and businesses in Africa. The business is based on the rental of its unique MOPO batteries from solar powered recharging hubs managed by a network of local agents. Its portfolio includes the MOPO50 battery, which provides basic household energy access for lighting, phone charging and Direct Current (DC) appliances; and the MOPOMax battery, which can be used to replace small petrol generators (0-4kVA) and as a battery swap for e-motorbike taxis. Each MOPO battery, which has integrated payment technology to ensure energy is only discharged upon agent payment through the MOPO App, can be tracked via the MOPO Platform to determine whether it is with an agent or customer or has reached the end of its life and is ready to be recycled. Carrying out over 6 million MOPO battery rentals per year, MOPO currently has operations in Chad, DRC, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda, and plans to roll out its service across Africa. Read more at: www.mobilepower.co
Photo: Customer renting a MOPO50 battery in the DRC – Mobile Power