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EAIF Launches West Africa’s First Ever Social Asset-Backed Security, Targets 100% Electrification in Côte d’Ivoire

Key Developments

EAIF Launches West Africa’s First Ever Social Asset-Backed Security, Targets 100% Electrification in Côte d’Ivoire

The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) has committed up to XOF 30 billion (equivalent to USD ~ 48 million) to launch West Africa’s first-ever social asset-backed security.
 
The XOF 60 billion (equivalent to ~ USD 96 million) bond will be issued by special purpose vehicle Fonds Commun de Titrisation de Créances Electricité Pour Tous (FCTC EPT) in local currency, building towards universal access to electricity in Côte d’Ivoire.

The first phase of the security, backed by revenue from energy tariffs collected from the launch of the government-led Electricity for All (PEPT) programme, will modernise the country’s power sector.
 
Improving access to energy and boosting economic productivity, predominantly in rural areas, the bond will enhance sustainability across the energy industry, in line with the PIDG ambition to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Goal on Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7).

EAIF will act as a co-investor, deploying capital in two tranches alongside the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
 
The combined commitments of up to XOF 60 billion will encourage participation by local investors.
 
Africa Link Capital is serving as the mandated lead arranger, with distribution being managed by local brokers BoA Capital Securities and NSIA Finance.
 
The instrument has been certified as a social bond, having received a second-party opinion from ratings agency Moody’s.

As part of the PEPT programme aimed at achieving 100% electrification across the country, the implementing agent – Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Électricité (CIE) – will use the proceeds of the bond to substantially expand last mile connectivity. 
 
This will contribute to financing the connection of up to 800,000 additional low-income households to the national grid over the next four years, supporting SDG 7.
 
The landmark transaction also aims to ensure the longevity of the Ivorian energy sector by installing prepaid meters to improve revenue collection.

Deepening the role of local capital markets in financing critical development priorities across Côte d’Ivoire, the issuance builds on EAIF’s growing track record of anchoring social and green impact bonds.
 
In addition, it increases EAIF’s local currency commitments in West Africa, previously anchoring a bond issued by telecoms giant Sonatel and investing in a bond funding the relocation of West Africa’s third busiest seaport.

The asset-backed security is a first for EAIF and cements the fund’s status as an essential partner in growing the country’s energy sector.
 
Côte d’Ivoire is EAIF’s largest country exposure, with all investments designed to strengthen the growing power sector.

Launched in 2014, PEPT has achieved over 1.6 million connections to date.

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Kenya Launches its First Smartphone Assembling Plant 

Key Developments

Kenya Launches its First Smartphone Assembling Plant

Kenya’s President William Ruto has launched the much anticipated East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Limited (EADAK) in Athi River, Machakos County.
 

The state-of-the-art facility is a joint venture between local telecommunication companies and international device manufacturers.

The initial mobile phone models at the launch will include the 4G-capable Neon 5-inch “Smarta” and the 6-and-a-half-inch “Ultra”.

These smartphones will be accessible across the entire nation, with distribution points at Faiba stores, dealer outlets, Safaricom branches, and the online Masoko platform.

EADAK CEO Joshua Chepkwony emphasized that this assembly plant aligns with the government’s goal to promote digital inclusion within the country.

The factory is expected to create between 300 and 500 direct job opportunities.

The launch of EADAK is a significant development for Kenya’s economy and its citizens. The facility will create jobs, boost domestic production, and make smartphones more affordable for Kenyans.

The new smartphone assembly plant is also a positive development for the region as a whole.

It is the first such facility in East Africa, and it is expected to attract other investors to the region.

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Ghanaian PE Firm Injaro Invests $2 Million in Fintech Startup Zeepay

New Investments

Ghanaian PE Firm Injaro Invests $2 Million in Fintech Startup Zeepay

Injaro Investment Advisors, a Ghanaian private capital fund manager, has announced a $2 million equity investment in Zeepay Ghana Limited, a wholly Ghanaian-owned global mobile finance service (MFS) provider.
 

This investment marks the inaugural investment from Injaro’s Injaro Ghana Venture Capital Fund (IGVCF) and represents a significant step in Zeepay’s Series A.5 fundraising round.

Zeepay is a pioneering player in the digital termination of remittance (DTR) sector and the mobile money market, with a footprint in over 20 countries across the globe.

The company specializes in facilitating cross-border payments directly into mobile wallets, serving regions spanning Africa and the Caribbean.

Zeepay’s core vision is to foster financial inclusion and revolutionize cross-border payments, particularly in underserved, low-income markets.

Injaro’s investment is expected to fuel Zeepay’s expansion across multiple countries and reinforce its presence in these new markets.

The investment also aligns with IGVCF’s strategic approach of collaborating with Ghanaian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), demonstrating credible growth potential.

Jerry Parkes, the Managing Director of Injaro Investment Advisors, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership with Zeepay, which is spearheaded by Andrew Takyi-Appiah, a dynamic and visionary young Ghanaian entrepreneur.

Parkes described their joint aspiration to build a successful Ghanaian multinational and become a frontrunner in the fintech industry.

Parkes also emphasized the importance of financing Zeepay with Ghanaian capital, which ensures that the investment’s profits circulate within the local economy, fostering a virtuous cycle of economic development.

He added that this investment signifies a significant initial step towards establishing connections between Ghana’s pension funds and remarkable local businesses that are pivotal drivers of Ghana’s economic growth.

Injaro’s investment in Zeepay is a landmark event for Ghana’s fintech sector and demonstrates the growing confidence of local investors in the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The investment is expected to accelerate Zeepay’s growth and expansion, enabling the company to reach more underserved communities and promote financial inclusion across Africa and beyond.

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Green Climate Fund Approves $50 Million for REPP 2 to Boost Renewable Energy in Africa

New Investments

Green Climate Fund Approves $50 Million for REPP 2 to Boost Renewable Energy in Africa

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved a $50 million equity allocation to REPP 2, a new debt fund that will provide an opportunity to invest in the rapidly growing renewable energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
 

REPP 2 is being developed by Camco, a climate and impact fund manager, and is designed to generate substantial climate, economic, and gender-related impacts while also ensuring sustainable returns for its investors.

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a significant challenge, with approximately 590 million people lacking access to electricity.

The International Energy Agency estimates that $22 billion is required annually to provide reliable energy access throughout the continent by 2030.

Additionally, Africa is grappling with an escalating series of climate-related challenges, and its nations need an estimated $2.8 trillion by 2030 to fulfill their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

REPP 2 has been structured as an innovative blended finance facility, leveraging a combination of public, private, and commercial funding to invest in small-scale and decentralized renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan African countries.

Through its private sector approach and a strong focus on supporting communities vulnerable to climate change, the fund is expected to make 35 to 40 investments over its lifetime.

These investments will support the development of decentralized renewable energy sources and enhance the resilience of national grid infrastructure, thereby promoting economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is anticipated that REPP 2 will provide new or improved access to clean, reliable, and affordable power to 7.7 million people across Africa.

This will not only increase economic opportunities but also enhance access to productive energy-related activities.

Furthermore, the fund aims to mitigate 12.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetimes of its projects.

Additionally, it intends to invest $70 million in projects aligned with 2X’s gender lens investing criteria and mobilize $786 million in third-party funding to promote green growth in target countries.

The blended finance structure of REPP 2 represents an evolutionary advancement from the $120 million REPP facility, which was previously fully funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

This development follows the signing of an indicative term sheet by the REPP board for a junior equity investment of up to $50 million from REPP into REPP 2.

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African Agri-Food Startups Invited to Apply for THRIVE Global Accelerator Program

New Investments

African Agri-Food Startups Invited to Apply for THRIVE Global Accelerator Program

African agri-food startups can now apply for the THRIVE Global Accelerator Program, a 12-week program designed to support seed through Series A companies and prepare them for growth and scalability.
 

The program supports companies across the agri-food value chain, with a strong emphasis on companies creating a sustainable future through innovation.

It is a mix of virtual and in-person programming, with four months of virtual training and support followed by two in-person weeks of support and networking.

Selected ventures will gain access to corporates and farmers, as well as investment opportunities, expert mentorship, and brand exposure.

Applications are open until November 10, 2023, and the program will run from March to August 2024.

The THRIVE Global Accelerator Program is a significant development for the African agri-food startup ecosystem.

It provides startups with the resources and support they need to grow and scale their businesses, which can have a major impact on the African economy and food security.

The program’s focus on sustainability is also important, as African agriculture faces a number of challenges, including climate change and land degradation.

Startups that are developing innovative solutions to these challenges can play a vital role in transforming the African agri-food sector.

What are the benefits of the program for startups?

The THRIVE Global Accelerator Program offers a number of benefits for startups, including:

  • Access to expert mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and investors
  • Investment opportunities from leading venture capital firms
  • Brand exposure through the THRIVE network
    Networking opportunities with corporates and farmers
  • Virtual and in-person training and support


How can startups apply for the program?

To apply for the THRIVE Global Accelerator Program, startups must complete an online application. The application includes questions about the startup’s business model, team, and impact on the agri-food sector.

The THRIVE Global Accelerator Program is a valuable opportunity for African agri-food startups to access the resources and support they need to grow and scale their businesses.

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MFS Africa and Madagascar’s Mvola Partner to Facilitate Inbound International Money Transfers

Key Developments

MFS Africa and Madagascar's Mvola Partner to Facilitate Inbound International Money Transfers

Pan-African digital payments network MFS Africa has joined forces with Mvola, the biggest mobile money provider in Madagascar, to pave the way for inbound international money transfers.
 

This strategic partnership has a dual mission: to bolster financial inclusion and drive economic development in the island nation.

In a significant milestone, MFS Africa has become the inaugural aggregator to go live with the mobile money division of Telma, Madagascar’s leading Mobile Network Operator (MNO) with a dominant 70% market share.

This collaboration enables the seamless transfer of remittances from Europe, the US, and the UK into Madagascar.

Additionally, the partnership streamlines MNO-to-MNO remittances to Madagascar from other African regions.

Nika Naghavi, Group Head of Growth at MFS Africa, explained the significance of this partnership, stating, “Providing financial services to Madagascar has long been regarded as costly and challenging due to its predominantly rural landscape and infrastructural limitations. This means that consumers in the country have been historically underserved by traditional financial institutions.”

Madagascar currently boasts over 10 million mobile money accounts, surpassing the number of traditional bank accounts.

More than a third of the population now can use mobile money for a wide range of financial transactions, including bill payments, peer-to-peer transfers, savings, and borrowing.

The collaboration between MFS Africa and Mvola promises to simplify the process of international money transfers into Madagascar, making it more accessible to the population and driving financial inclusion.

It also underscores the growing importance of mobile money services in serving the financial needs of a wide range of consumers, particularly in regions with unique challenges and opportunities, such as Madagascar.

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Ghanaian Startup Kofa Partners with TAILG Group to Introduce E-Bikes with Innovative Battery Swap Technology in Africa

Key Developments

Ghanaian Startup Kofa Partners with TAILG Group to Introduce E-Bikes with Innovative Battery Swap Technology in Africa

Ghanaian startup Kofa, a pioneer in battery network solutions, has teamed up with TAILG Group, a prominent electric vehicle (EV) brand hailing from China, to launch the Jidi electric motorcycle.
 

This innovative two-wheeler is equipped with cutting-edge battery swap technology, signifying a significant advancement in the EV landscape.

Kofa’s mission revolves around the creation of an affordable and customer-centric electricity network powered by portable batteries and renewable energy sources.

At the core of this endeavor is the Kofa Swap & Go system, a distributed network of batteries and swap stations designed to provide users with immediate access to a fully charged battery in a matter of seconds.

The partnership between Kofa and TAILG Group sets ambitious goals, aiming to deploy 200,000 electric vehicles and establish more than 5,000 battery swap stations across Africa by 2030.

The first shipments of the Jidi electric motorcycle, featuring the innovative battery swap technology, are anticipated to arrive in Ghana by the close of 2023.

Leveraging the benefits of Kofa’s batteries and battery swap networks, the Jidi is poised to reduce rider costs by up to 30 per cent, offering an attractive and eco-friendly transportation option.

The Jidi electric motorcycle is ingeniously designed around Kofa’s extractable battery, allowing for “unlimited battery range” by enabling battery swaps at any of Kofa’s Swap & Go sites.

Over the course of the coming year, Kofa’s swap network will gain momentum in Ghana, with plans to expand into new countries by 2024.

This expansion will see Kofa investing in and building swap infrastructure in various regions, further solidifying its commitment to sustainable transportation solutions.

The introduction of the Jidi electric motorcycle with its innovative battery swap technology not only marks a significant leap in eco-friendly transportation options but also demonstrates a commitment to addressing urban pollution and reducing carbon emissions in Africa.

This partnership holds great promise for advancing EV adoption and offering sustainable transportation solutions across the continent.

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Ilara Health: The Kenyan Health-Tech Bridging the Diagnostic Gap in African Healthcare

StartUp Spotlight

Ilara Health: The Kenyan Health-Tech Bridging the Diagnostic Gap in African Healthcare

Ilara Health is an innovative healthtech startup dedicated to providing diagnostic equipment and services to small clinics and pharmacies situated on the outskirts of urban areas in Kenya.

The significance of their work lies in the fact that approximately 70% of medical decisions require some form of diagnosis, such as a blood test.

Nevertheless, more than 500 million people in Africa today face challenges accessing or affording even a simple blood test.

Ilara Health strives to make diagnostics in Africa more affordable, accessible, and accurate, bridging the diagnostic gap and elevating the quality of healthcare.

Greater access to diagnostic equipment not only yields health benefits but also empowers clinics and pharmacies to increase their revenue by offering additional services to patients.

However, traditional diagnostic machines come with steep price tags, often reaching tens of thousands of dollars.

This cost is prohibitively high for Ilara’s customer base, consisting of informal businesses like clinics and pharmacies that lack access to traditional financial services commonly used by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support their growth.

To surmount this challenge, Ilara Health has established partnerships with international manufacturers of next-generation, small, portable diagnostic devices, many of which integrate with mobile phones.

These devices, currently in the market, are capable of diagnosing infections as well as non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Emilian Popa, the Co-Founder of Ilara Health, emphasizes the pivotal role played by smartphone medicine and digital health in making small, affordable, and precise diagnostic devices accessible.

These innovations are poised to replace the bulky and expensive legacy machines that have historically been out of reach for the facilities Ilara Health targets.

Although Ilara’s devices are significantly more affordable than their legacy counterparts, their price tags still present challenges for informal clinics to purchase outright.

To address this issue, Ilara introduced an innovative financing option: clients make a small initial deposit, and the remaining balance is settled over 24 months.

Ilara’s devices are connected to a technology platform that allows the company to remotely deactivate them if a client fails to make payments.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite its innovative business model, Ilara Health faces several hurdles in its mission to transform healthcare.

Operating in areas where healthcare services are informal and disorganized presents unique challenges.

Understanding the dynamics of healthcare delivery in a low-income setting is complex, as many people may not be aware of the areas where Ilara operates, despite their proximity to major cities.

Another challenge involves providing extensive training to clients on how to operate the diagnostic devices. While they are skilled medical professionals, they often lack the necessary knowledge, requiring dedicated training efforts.

Moreover, many of these clinics encounter cash flow constraints that affect their ability to make timely payments. Managing the collection of leasing fees presents its own set of challenges, despite the presence of a well-structured system.

Ilara Health’s dedication to making diagnostic services more accessible, affordable, and accurate has the potential to reshape healthcare in Kenya and beyond.

Their innovative subscription model and partnerships with international manufacturers exemplify the power of sustainable economic models in the healthcare sector.

With continued efforts, Ilara Health is poised to make a profound impact on healthcare outcomes in Africa, improving the lives of millions who struggle to access vital diagnostic services.

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Kenyan Social Commerce Startup, Sukhiba Connect, Secures $1.5 Million to Expand Beyond Borders

New Investments

Egyptian Ed-tech Startup, OBM Education, Secures Funding for Expansion

Sukhiba Connect, a pioneering Kenyan social commerce startup, has successfully raised $1.5 million in funding to fuel its expansion ambitions beyond the country’s borders.
 

This funding round was led by CRE Venture Capital and saw participation from notable investors, including Antler, EQ2 Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Chandaria Capital, and several angel investors.

Established in 2021 by co-founders Ananth Gudipati (CEO) and Abhinav Solipuram (CTO), Sukhiba Connect initially embarked on its journey as a community commerce platform, streamlining buyer orders and simplifying bulk purchases for manufacturers.

However, the startup later transitioned to the conversational commerce sphere, primarily due to the capital-intensive nature of the initial model.

Sukhiba Connect has since developed a remarkable B2B conversational commerce tool that enables companies to engage with and sell products to their clients through Meta’s popular messaging service, WhatsApp.

With this innovative platform, sellers can seamlessly send notifications, categorize customers, manage orders, and accept local payment options like M-PESA, Kenya’s widely used mobile money service.

On the customer side, individuals can effortlessly browse product catalogs, add or remove items from their carts, and complete the entire checkout process, all without leaving the WhatsApp ecosystem.

Kenya boasts the distinction of being the leading African nation in WhatsApp usage, with a staggering 97% of Internet users in the country relying on the messaging service.

Notably, WhatsApp has become the preferred communication channel for internet users aged between 16 and 64, surpassing other social media platforms, as revealed by a survey conducted in the third quarter of 2022.

While WhatsApp offers several features to assist businesses in establishing in-app stores, certain gaps persist, and localization remains a challenge.

Sukhiba Connect, alongside other social commerce startups like Tushop and Kapu, has been diligently addressing these issues, but the co-founder, Ananth Gudipati, asserts that there is still a vast untapped potential in this space.

Sukhiba Connect’s B2B conversational commerce tool has enabled over 30 businesses to embrace WhatsApp commerce, the majority of which are prominent distributors and manufacturers serving nearly 15,000 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including retailers.

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