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PowerGen acquires E.on SE’s African microgrid business

Image: Rafiki Power.

Off-grid power solutions developer PowerGen Renewable Energy has acquired Tanzania-focused mini-grid company Rafiki Power from its parent company, Germany utility giant E.on SE.

The two African companies want to use their newly-combined clout to build “momentum for private utilities” on the continent, according to a press release.

PowerGen, which develops, builds and operates micro-utilities and claims to serve more than 10,000 customers across several African countries, will take over Rafiki’s assets, which include eight Tanzanian solar-plus-storage mini-grids that serve 950 customers, as well as a project pipeline, the intellectual property of its software, and staff.

Aaron Cheng, PowerGen president, said in a statement that “PowerGen and E.ON Off-Grid Solutions have shared a common vision for a long time: to transform lives by building the energy system of the future in Africa.  We are excited to combine our experience, knowledge, resources, and cultures in order to further our progress towards this shared vision.”

Microgrids offer huge opportunity in Africa and other emerging markets where many rural communities live far from the grid and a large proportion of people do not have access to electricity.

E.On SE's decision to offload its East African microgrid business bucks a wider trend of major energy companies investing in smaller off-grid power solutions firms, in particular those that target emerging markets.

In June, French battery company Saft, wholly owned by oil and gas giant Go Total, bought US microgrid firm Go Electric, which deploys microgrids for military and commercial sites across North America. In January, energy giants General Electric and EDF contributed to a funding round totalling US$5 million to fuel Silicon Valley-based microgrid provider Off Grid Electric’s expansion into Ghana. In October, Rolls Royce Engines invested in Berlin energy storage solutions start-up Qinous and EDF took a 50% stake in Togo-focused off-grid specialist BOXX.

PowerGen currently has offices in Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

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