KENYA: $12m from InfraCo to develop SunCulture’s solar irrigation offering

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KENYA: $12m from InfraCo to develop SunCulture's solar irrigation offering©SunCulture

Nairobi, Kenya-based solar-powered irrigation systems provider SunCulture is attracting more and more investors. The latest financing was granted to SunCulture on 2 April 2024 by investment company InfraCo Africa. The 12 million dollars will support the Kenyan company's expansion in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kenyan supplier SunCulture can now improve its solar irrigation offering, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it has already invested in several markets. This is thanks to a new $12 million financing package released on 2 April 2024 by InfraCo Africa, an investment company of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). London, UK-based financial advisory firm EKTA Partners acted as exclusive financial advisor on the transaction.

“This equity investment is part of an oversubscribed $27.5 million Series B fundraising to enable hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers to access Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled solar irrigation systems by 2030 in Africa,” says InfraCo Africia. The majority of farmers on the African continent are still dependent on rain-fed agriculture, which is threatened by drought, or use diesel or petrol-powered irrigation pumps, which emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

Systems capable of pumping 1,200 litres of water per hour

“With access to irrigation, farmers can increase their yields, ensuring greater food security for themselves and their families in the face of the impacts of climate change, and increased farm incomes can support broader sustainable economic growth and prosperity in rural areas,” says Claire Jarratt, InfraCo Africa’s Investment and Risk Director. So the investment company’s decision to fund SunCulture specifically was an obvious one for its sustainable irrigation systems.

The IoT-based systems are aimed at small farms with plantations of around 1 to 3 acres. They are capable of pumping up to 1,200 litres of water per hour. These systems include sprinklers adapted for drip irrigation, as well as battery storage that maximise water use efficiency by allowing farmers to irrigate their land early in the morning, minimising evaporation, and target water to individual plants avoiding wastage.

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Another advantage of SunCulture’s installations is that they are equipped with dedicated systems for remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, as well as battery systems for domestic lighting and recharging small appliances such as mobile phones. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, and we couldn’t be more excited about building with our investors,” says Samir Ibrahim, CEO of SunCulture.

What’s more, the cost of buying a SunCulture pump is 40-60% lower than the cost of a fuel pump. The company offers its pumps to small-scale farmers as part of a ‘Pay-As-You-Grow’ model. In a further effort to make its pumps more affordable, SunCulture has signed up to a carbon credit scheme, whose emissions reductions have been independently verified by VERRA, reducing the initial cost of its pumps.

Over the past five years, SunCulture has also benefited from funding from Nithio Financial Intermediary, an investment vehicle set up by the Nithio platform, which specialises in financing renewable energy based on artificial intelligence, and an $11 million credit line opened by Triodos Investment Management, Nordic Development Fund (NDF), AlphaMundi and the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) OGEF. The Kenyan supplier of solar irrigation systems has also raised $14 million from Energy Access Ventures (EAV), Électricité de France (EDF), Acumen Capital Partners (ACP) and Dream Project Incubators (DPI).

Inès Magoum

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