- WeLight has raised €19 million funding for its Madagascar off-grid solar operations
- Funding from the EIB, Triodos Investment Management and EDFI ElectriFI will enable it to install solar mini-grids in more than 120 villages in Madagascar
- Beneficiaries of these systems will be around 250,000 people in more than 45,000 households, businesses along with schools, health centers and public spaces
Rural electrification operator of off-grid solar power systems in Africa, WeLight has raised a collective investment of €19 million from international lenders, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), to enable it to build small solar mini-grids in over 120 villages of Madagascar with no access to the grid.
These off-grid solar systems will provide clean electricity to around 250,000 people in more than 45,000 households, businesses along with schools, health centers and public spaces, with ‘1st time’ access to clean, affordable and productive energy and light. With this, WeLight will also expand its reach to 17 regions, from current 8.
A single off-grid solar system of WeLight comprises a solar power plant with an energy storage system, a distribution line and a meter to generate electricity on 24×7 basis.
While funding of €19 million has come from the EIB, Triodos Investment Management and EDFI ElectriFI, WeLight’s existing shareholders AXIAN Group with Pan-African presence, France’s Sagemcom and Norway’s Norfund have lent €9 million shareholder loans to cover the cost of the €28 million project.
WeLight also said it will pursue growth in other Sub-Saharan African nations to address these electrification challenges.
“The impact of mini-grid solutions is multifaceted. They are crucial in providing low-income households access to clean, affordable and reliable electricity, and they boost socioeconomic development for rural communities,” said Regional Manager Africa and Middle East at Triodos Investment Management, Fadoua Boudiba.
WeLight has so far deployed its off-grid solar systems in more than 40 rural communities in Madagascar and Mali, and aims to reach more than 200 new sites in 4 countries by 2023.
WeLight Madagascar’s CEO Romain de Villeneuve stated, “This new project will significantly improve rural electrification in Madagascar. It will also positively impact hundreds of thousands of people, greatly enhancing living standards, the local economy and people’s well-being.”
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Off-grid Renewable Energy Statistics 2022, at the end of 2021 Madagascar had a total solar lights and solar home systems (SHS) capacity of 1.277 MW, while other off-grid solar PV capacity was 0.515 MW.
In an October 2022 report, the World Bank and Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) found off-grid solar market growing in popularity, calling it a feasible solution to electrify 55% of currently unconnected households in the next 5 years, including in Sub-Saharan Africa (see Increasing Need For Off-Grid Solar).