During 2021, the EEP Africa Trust Fund celebrated the successful completion of 10 projects awarded funding in 2018-2019 and welcomed the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as a new donor.
The Annual Report 2021 presents success stories from the EEP Africa portfolio and key activities organized by the fund during last year. As the Covid-19 pandemic continued to impact businesses around the world, EEP Africa refrained from launching a new call for proposals and instead focused on supporting the 66 active grantees in its portfolio – including 26 new projects that were launched during the first half of 2021. The fund’s focus on advancing a just and inclusive clean energy transition can be seen in the strong share of start-ups (65%), local companies (42%) and women-led enterprises (36%) in the active portfolio.
“Early-stage small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa are key drivers for developing and scaling up climate resilient solutions. EEP Africa has been a proven instrument to support this under-served market segment.” – Henrik Franklin, Director – Portfolio Origination & Management, Nordic Development Fund
During 2021, the first batch of EEP Africa grantees contracted under NDF management successfully completed their projects. Despite the challenging operating environment, these 10 projects achieved promising results while piloting or scaling up new products and business models that are helping to shape the energy market in Southern and East Africa. Several of these companies also secured large-scale debt and equity financing to further grow their business. The Annual Report 2021 features success stories about projects implemented in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi and Uganda by Acacia Innovations, African Clean Energy (ACE), SolarWorks!, Tiny Totos, Yellow and Zembo.
Investment facilitation is a priority activity for EEP Africa and our Investor Forum has long been a prominent event in the sector. In 2021, with in-person gatherings still limited by the pandemic, the fund shifted its focus to mapping the clean energy investor landscape and strengthening our understanding of investment needs and opportunities in the sector. A key component of this was a more customised approach to matchmaking that introduced key investment partners to relevant companies in our portfolio through a series of Investor Workshops.
“Having the opportunity to speak with multiple highly-relevant companies and answer their questions in a more personal setting was one of the best and most efficient pipeline-building activities we’ve done to date.” – Bethany Larsen, co-Founder, Charm Impact
Knowledge sharing through events, publications and partnerships continued to be a core activity for the fund in 2021. The EEP Africa Knowledge Week attracted over 250 participants for virtual discussions on early-stage financing, inclusive leadership, cold chain solutions and agro-processing. One of the innovative approaches to last-mile energy access being piloted by several grantees is battery rentals. Jaza Energy’s success in Tanzania with a women-led version of this business model was featured in an EEP Africa case study and a video produced in partnership with BBC StoryWorks and the World Energy Council. To help ensure that batteries and other off-grid technologies are properly managed and disposed of, EEP Africa also partnered with CLASP to develop a practical e-waste toolkit for companies working in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We are excited to partner with EEP Africa to ensure more off-grid solar companies and stakeholders have access to resources for proper e-waste management.” – James Wakaba, East Africa Director, CLASP
Other success stories and partnerships are also highlighted in the Annual Report. These include the 2021 winners of the EEP Africa Project of the Year and Rising Energy Leader awards, impact results from the full portfolio, notable achievements by a range of project developers, and research on how flexible grant financing can help build sustainable companies. (The research was published in 2022 as an EEP Africa report, Generating Success.)
Towards the end of 2021, EEP Africa received validation for its work through new financing commitments from Finland, one of its founding members, and Switzerland, the fund’s newest donor. In 2022, the fund will continue to build on these successes and develop its internal goals and processes with a particular focus on enhancing locally-driven business models, developing a holistic approach to measuring success, and harmonising activities and financing with other players in the sector.
“Switzerland believes that supporting companies active in this growing sector creates jobs and opens up a pather to economic growth with a low impact on the environment.” – Manuel Thurnhofer, Regional Director of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Read more about our portfolio and activities in the EEP Africa Trust Fund Annual Report 2021.