EIB injects $12.5 million into Fenix’s expansion plans in Uganda

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Fenix International has received a $12.5 million (about Shs46.5 billion) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to expand its operations in Uganda.

One of the world’s largest financiers of renewable energy, EIB says the funds will help about 1.4 million Ugandans that are not connected to the grid access “reliable and affordable energy”.

“Access to affordable and clean energy is important to fight poverty, create jobs and empower women and girls. The European Investment Bank is pleased to agree new support for scaling up off-grid solar deployment in East Africa under this new partnership with ENGIE,” Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President, said.

“Over a million people across Uganda will be able to access electricity for the first time that will power communications, provide light and make cooking easier. This scheme will also reduce use of kerosene, charcoal and candles to help families save money, reduce pollution and reduce the risk of accidents. Unlocking sustainable economic and social development through off-grid solar is key for Africa’s future and the EIB is pleased to back this project in Uganda.”

The funds will be used to support the deployment of 240,000 high-quality solar home systems in Uganda. In a message exchange, the country director of Fenix Uganda said since 2012 the company has employed 460 people, hired 1200 commission-based agents and sold 550,000 solar home systems.

“At ENGIE, we see the massive potential of the off-grid electrification sector as a way to bridge energy gaps across Africa, faster and more affordably. Every day families across Africa are able to access electricity for the first time using off-grid solar technology provided by ENGIE Africa. Our new partnership with the European Investment Bank in Uganda will allow Fenix to provide ultra-affordable PAYGO systems to millions of people in villages across the country,” Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa, said in a statement.

“This will provide access to clean solar power and financial empowerment. Providing access to energy in Africa is a huge undertaking but I firmly believe that universal access to energy is achievable in the foreseeable future, through smart investments in a combination of national grid extension, solar home systems and mini-grids. With our off-grid platform, we are industrializing and scaling up the development of a wide range of decentralized solutions, with a sustainable business model. As of now, ENGIE is providing decentralized electricity to more than 4.5 million people in 9 countries through solar home systems from both Fenix and ENGIE Mobisol, as well as mini-grids from ENGIE PowerCorner.”

Only one in five Ugandans living in remote and rural communities has access to reliable electricity.

By scaling up adoption of off-grid solar technology, officials say, this new initiative will provide economic, social, education and health opportunities for families and entrepreneurs who cannot be connected to the national electricity network.

Customers will also be able to benefit from Fenix International’s service centres that provide support in 30 languages across Uganda.

The deal will also help households, entrepreneurs and small holders across Uganda to access electricity for mobile phones, solar lighting, refrigeration, radio and television.

“This will help farmers to sell produce, create new markets for traders and improve health,” reads an official statement.

Increased provision of reliable and affordable energy will create new opportunities for women and girls and reduce exposure to indoor pollution from current kerosene use.

“The European Union is committed to supporting sustainable economic and social development across Uganda. This new cooperation initiative between the European Investment Bank and Fenix International, a subsidiary of leading European energy company ENGIE, demonstrates the value-added of European engagement with Ugandan partners to advance the country’s development vision,” Attilio Pacifici, European Union Ambassador to Uganda, said.

“Harnessing renewable energy through innovative off-grid solar technology, combined with productive uses of power in rural areas, is a direct demonstration of the European Union’s green deal for Africa, providing new opportunities for millions of Ugandans.”

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