By Anders Lorenzen
Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa, is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Last year we reported when parts of the country underwent a fatal and devastating drought.
Now a solar company in the country, WeLight, has secured funding that could throw a lifeline to people and spearhead a critical development path connecting 50,000 households to electricity within the next two years.
Off-grid solar power has been critical and hugely successful in many African countries. Without functioning national grid networks, it is possible and affordable, to connect millions of homes off the grid to clean energy.
The company allows its customers to prepay their electricity through mobile banking, and it is targeting the rural population which has no access to electricity. The project has won financial backing from the European Investment Bank (EBI), EDFI ElectriFI and Triodos Investment Management. WeLight is already providing solar power to 9,000 rural households in the country.
Outside Madagascar, WeLight launched five mini-grids in Mali in a test project in 2021 and is also looking at opportunities in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
WeLight says its newest expansion will cost €27 million and cover 120 new villages. Shareholders are providing the additional funds through loans. This will allow the company to keep expanding its operations and unlock its potential to deploy more than a hundred mini-grids in Madagascar.
The business plan of WeLight is to build small solar plants, storage units, and distribution lines, and to install a meter at each customer’s premises, offering electricity 24 hours a day.
Madagascar has a population of 29 million.