Germany-Africa Business Forum speaker Markus Schwaninger has launched a new crowd investing platform that enables private investors to back solar power plants in emerging markets. The first project on ecoligo, the platform Markus created together with his co-founder Martin Baart, was opened to investors last week and the funding goal was reached in just 6 days. The project will finance a 66 Kilowatt peak solar system for a flower farm in Thika, Kenya — thereby reducing CO2 emissions and helping to bring lower electricity prices to Kenya’s vital agriculture sector.
“The beauty of solar is in its ease of use and availability in all African countries,” Schwaninger said during the “Plugged In: Germany’s Renewable Revolution Applied to Africa” panel at the Germany-Africa Business Forum. However, he went on to outline the challenge that access to financing presents to the implementation of solar on the continent. ecoligo presents a solution: by financing systems for businesses and industries through crowdinvesting, the company breaks down a key barrier that is currently preventing the African renewable revolution.
Financing is only one-half of ecoligo’s offering. With over 14 years of experience in the markets between them, Martin and Markus discovered that along with access to finance, a second barrier to the implementation of solar power for businesses was that companies did not want to maintain the solar systems themselves. Consequently, ecoligo works with local partners to service and operate the plants after they are built. Energy customers pay only for the electricity they use through a power purchase or leasing agreement and own the system after the agreement ends. These electricity payments are also used to pay back the crowd investors.
A recurring theme throughout the Germany-Africa Business Forum was the need to change old-fashioned perceptions of Africa. An enlightening speech by Carole Kariuki, CEO of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, provided an overview of Kenya’s development that was packed with statistics and shed light on the growth of the country. ecoligo also takes this mission seriously: by enabling private investment into African countries, the company aims to influence the perception of investment in the continent as a serious economic undertaking with a high potential impact.
Markus Schwaninger is a certified expert in renewable energy finance and was joined by Linda Mabhena-Olagunju, Founder and Managing Director at DLO Energy Resources Group and Dirk Walterspacher, CEO, Forestfinest Consulting on the panel, which was moderated by Dr. Matthias Lang, Partner at Bird & Bird. More information about ecoligo can be found at ecoligo.com. (web page in German only).