Total Invests In Africa-Focused Solar Startups Off Grid Electric and Powerhive

By Kevin Mwanza Published: February 3, 2016, 6:57 am

French energy giant Total said on Tuesday that it had invested in two African-focused solar power startups Off Grid Electric and Powerhive through its $150 million Total Energy Ventures capital fund, Reuters reported.

Both startups offer solar solutions for use in rural areas across sub-Saharan Africa that are off their countries’ national electricity grid.

Off Grid Electric develops and distributes home solar systems and battery storage to power small appliances, while Powerhive develops and operates solar power microgrids with battery storage and local distribution.

“Off Grid Electric and Powerhive’s systems combine solar power, energy storage and digital customer relationship management, paving the way for distributed energy management models,” Total’s chief executive, Patrick Pouyanné, said in a statement.

“Their systems are expected to speed up electrification in Africa and could be as much a game changer as mobile phones were in their field. Off Grid Electric recently won the Zayed Future Energy Prize in recognition of its efficient, apposite solutions.”A spokeswoman from

Total told Reuters the company had take up more than 15 percent stake in the Tanzania- and California-based Off Grid Electric, and California-based Powerhive for anything between $1 million and $5 million.

Powerhive, which has been operating rural microgrids in Kenya since 2012, announced last week that it had closed a $20 million Series A financing round that will support its expansion into new markets in  Africa and Asia-Pacific.

According to a Bloomberg report, Total SA’s Total Energy Ventures International SAS was among investors in the Powerhive fund. Other investors included First Solar Inc. and Caterpillar Ventures Capital Inc., a subsidiary of construction giant Caterpillar Inc.

Total said in September that it planned to invest $500 million per year in new energies including solar and biomass to take advantage of the growing market.

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