London: A platform that crowdfunds finance for clean energy projects in Africa has been boosted by investments from over 200 people in Scotland, as enthusiasm for climate solutions ramps up ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow later this year.
The main goal of the platform, called Energise Africa, is to support solar energy resources in sub-Saharan Africa and improve access to electricity.
Since it started in 2017 it’s helped over 450,000 people in Africa to ditch toxic kerosine — also known as paraffin — as an energy source, and start using sustainable, affordable solar energy instead. That has in turn helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100,000 tonnes.
So far, £15 million has been invested through the platform, including £11.3 million through crowdfunding. In 70% of projects, the UK has provided match funding through its aid budget, to encourage UK investors to join the campaign.
The platform can be supported by anyone with a starting investment of as little as £50 in a specific project, which they can the potentially earn up to 7% interest on.
Funding like this is known as impact investing — essentially meaning financially investing in something that will have a positive impact. But unlike donating to charity, doing so might see the investor earn or lose money, as they might with any other type of financial investment.
Energise Africa sets projects crowdfunded on its platform a limited number of days to raise their capital. People can invest as little as £50 in a specific project in the form of a fixed term bond and earn a potential interest rate of to 7%.
UK International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
“UK aid is helping people in Africa use more solar energy, which ultimately will benefit us all in creating a cleaner planet. People across Scotland are playing a crucial role in this transition.
“As well as helping to tackle climate change, Energise Africa, backed by UK aid, is also giving everyone across the country the chance to earn potential interest on their investment.” Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said: “It’s great to see Scots fighting climate change as part of these UK aid funded projects, especially in the year Glasgow will be hosting the COP26 global climate conference.
“Not only does it benefit communities in Africa but it also shows what a difference can be made when we work together to make more eco-friendly changes.”
The platform uses investors’ money to buy solar power systems such as roof panels, which are then sold to households and businesses in Africa. Instead of buying Kerosene, these customers save money by making affordable monthly payments until they own the solar power systems outright. This normally takes between 12 and 24 months, after which the power is free.
Energise Africa’s projects include supplying lights for fishing in Tanzania and fridges for farmers in Kenya, as well as helping off-grid families in Mozambique access energy. These projects change lives, allowing children to study in the evenings and people to cook in their homes without creating harmful fumes. They can also reduce food spoilage for farmers, increasing their profits.