InfraCo Africa commits US$12 million to scale solar irrigation across sub-Saharan Africa

  • InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed an agreement with Savant Group Ltd, committing US$12 million to scale SunCulture’s solar irrigation offering across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The equity investment, made through InfraCo Africa’s dedicated investment arm, forms part of an oversubscribed US$27.5 million Series B fundraise  set to deliver access to Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled solar powered irrigation systems to hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers by 2030.
  • The majority of these farmers currently rely on rainfed agriculture or on the use of CO2-emitting diesel or petrol irrigation pumps.

SunCulture offers farmers a more sustainable route to managing climate-induced variability of rainfall and displaces the need to use expensive, polluting fuel-based pumps. The company’s unique offering involves the design, manufacture, financing, installation, and maintenance of comprehensive solar irrigation systems with safe, low-voltage DC pumps. Capable of pumping up to 1,200 litres of water per hour, the affordable systems are targeted at smallholdings of approximately 1-3 acres. The solar PV systems include sprinklers, drip irrigation and battery storage which maximise efficiency of water use by enabling farmers to irrigate their land in the early morning –  minimising evaporation – and to target water to individual plants, avoiding waste. The IoT-enabled systems include remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. The battery systems also including domestic lighting and enable farmers to charge small devices such as mobile phones.

The ‘total cost of ownership’ for a SunCulture pump is 40-60% lower than the cost of a fuel-based pump, depending on payment plans. SunCulture offers its pumps to smallholder farmers through a Pay-As-You-Grow model. In a further effort to improve the affordability of its pumps for smallholder farmers, SunCulture is the first African solar water pump provider to have registered for a carbon credit programme, having its emissions reductions independently verified by VERRA, thereby reducing the upfront cost of its pumps for smallholder farmers.

EKTA Partners acted as the exclusive financial advisor for this transaction, building on the team’s track record in raising capital for tech companies driving positive change globally.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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