Mini-grid: All On grants investment fund to NXT Grid for solar development in Sub-Saharan Africa
By Ikenna Omeje
All On, a Nigerian impact investing firm seeded by Shell, has given fund to NXT Grid BV, a solar mini-grid rental company, with a focus on online automation and standardisation to empower local mini-grid developers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a release by the company has said.
Speaking on the reason why the fund was granted to NEXT Grid, All On Investment Manager, Afolabi Akinrogunde, said: “To close the massive energy access gap in Nigeria, we need continuous innovation. NXT Grid’s low cost mini-grid model offers a new way to scale mini-grids rapidly with multiple partners.”
“We are excited about this investment and confident that leveraging their technology tools and access to finance we will be able to provide the market another alternative to lighting up thousands of households and small businesses across the country.”
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NXT Grid, Fabio De Pascale, said: “We are extremely excited about partnering with All On. Their knowledge of the Nigerian market and their deep involvement in the mini-grids sector is a perfect match for the NXT Grid platform. The All On investment is a strong statement of value recognition by the most prominent mini-grids investor in Nigeria. Thanks to the investment, we will be able to further grow our capacity for renting mini-grid assets to local developers, and accelerate the growth of the mini-grids sector in Nigeria.”
With the further advance of market available mini-grid technologies and the reduction in mini-grid equipment costs, renewable energy sources in combination with mini-grid systems are slowly gaining ground. By 2030 renewable energy sources are predicted to power over 60 percent of new energy access connections and about 50 percent of these connections will be realised through mini-grid systems, underpinned by new business models using digital and mobile technologies.
“For SSA alone up to 200,000 mini-grids are needed to connect 450 million people according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), requiring a capital investment of at least $93 billion by 2030 to reach the target to establish 81 million connections. 2030 is the year the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) is slated to be achieved and mini-grids are an essential part of the work to be done. Yet, in its “State of the Global Mini-Grids Market Report 2020,” BloombergNEF and Sustainable Energy for All reported that only some 2,000 mini-grids were installed and operational in SSA as of the beginning of 2020.
“NXT Grid’s cloud-based platform, based on smart automation algorithms, in combination with NXT Grid’s rental offering to local developers is key to reaching the scalability and acceleration needed to achieve the ambitious universal energy access targets,” All On stated.