The most populous, and second-most densely populated, nation in Africa, Nigeria is fast coming to the fore as a mobile pay-go solar and solar-storage microgrid leader. Part and parcel of its Green Energy Project with the UN Development Program (UNDP), Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BoI) on Jan. 19 launched a 1 billion nara (US$3.1 million) off-grid solar energy fund.

The bank will lend and/or invest the fund’s capital on favorable, concessionary terms to qualified businesses installing mobile pay-go and other forms of off-grid solar energy systems and services across the country, according to a news report.

More than half Nigeria’s population lack access to grid power – some 184 million people according to 2015 national statistics. In making Green Energy Project investment decisions, BoI will concentrate on financing projects carried out by micro, small and medium-sized Nigerian businesses that intend to provide home solar energy services in rural areas of the nation, where the large majority of those without grid access reside.

Banks, Telcos Join with Local Micro, Small and Medium-Size Businesses

In February 2016, the GSMA Mobile for Development (M4D) Utilities program and Etisalat, with support from the U.K. government, released the first of a series of four reports in which researchers concluded that while the Nigerian market for off-grid solar solutions was in a nascent state of development, actions and investment via initiatives such as the joint IFC-World Bank Lighting Africa program were opening up opportunities for mobile network operators (MNOs) to launch mobile pay-go solar solutions in the country at scale.

Subsequent developments have borne that out. Africa-focused private equity firms in 4Q 2016 invested over $60 million in Nigerian mobile pay-go solar provider Mobisol and Netherlands-based Lumos Global, which is selling emissions-free electricity services from solar-storage microgrids in Nigeria.

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