Nigeria’s renewable startup, Rensource, announced today that it has raised a whopping $20 million in Series A equity round – the largest ever for a Nigerian renewable energy start-up! This is based on information contained in a press release sent to Nairametrics.
The release read;
The round was co-led by existing investors CRE Venture Capital and the Omidyar Network, with participation from Inspired Evolution, Proparco, EDPR, and other investors.
Despite being Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria only has 12 gigawatts of installed grid capacity, with just one-in-four Nigerians connected to the national power grid. In contrast, South Africa has 50 gigawatts. Rensource launched commercially in 2016 to address West Africa’s power crisis, starting with Nigeria.
This round will see the company expand their offering beyond energy, with the launch of a new B2B platform, “Spaces O2O”, a project created to address the holes in the country’s fragmented supply chain. This will ultimately help SMEs and microSMEs, working in the regions they have a presence, access services that accelerate their productivity growth.
Why it matters: The firm is bridging Nigeria’s power deficit through the delivery of renewable based decentralized energy, focusing primarily on SMEs.
Operating in seven clusters across six states in Nigeria (Lagos, Kano, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo and Edo), the company builds and operates solar hybrid microutilities. Solar hybrid micro-utility is a type of energy services provider that localizes energy generation, distribution, and customer service to each community it serves.
The company is active in marketplaces that serve over thirty-thousand SMEs and it is expected to expand into 100 markets in the country over the next three years.
With the financing secured, Rensource is now expanding its offering beyond energy and entering Nigeria’s nascent offline to online (O2O) space, by offering technology enabled value added services to SMEs in the marketplaces it covers. With the launch of this new B2B platform, “Spaces O2O”, merchants will be able to access services that accelerate their productivity growth.
On the development, Founder and CEO, Rensource, Ademola Adesina, said, “We believe that simultaneously greening and decentralizing power infrastructure is the only way to navigate Nigeria out of its current state of energy poverty.
“Pursuing this with a focus on the millions of small-businesses that drive our economy creates a massive multiplier effect whose benefit accrues to all. Our push into O2O is a natural step that leverages our existing infrastructure to further empower the merchants we serve. We aim to bring connect over one-million merchants in the next 5 years.”
As Rensource has grown a leading foothold in the Nigerian market, it has identified gaps in the distribution value chain regarding lack of access to credit, expensive transportation and warehousing, inaccurate data and limited product availability, underpinned by a highly fragmented and multi-layered value chain.
Impact on Discos’ operations: No doubt, the emergence of renewable energy in Nigeria would take a tow on the operations of the Distribution Companies across the nation.
Its inexhaustible, clean and longer term benefits’ feature are threats to the operations of the Discos. Going by the increasing rate Nigerians that had subscribed to renewable energy like solar, wind, and small hydro among others, Discos’ operations are at great risk.
The “feed-in tariff regulations for renewable energy sourced electricity in Nigeria” law is another threat to their operations. The law requires Discos to source 50% of the electricity from renewable energy like biomass, small hydro, wind and solar energy.
“With renewable energy, we can be sure of good health, sustainable communities, clean water, responsible production and sustainable environment. The mix of energy will enhance sustainability, lower costs, reduce pollution, improve wellbeing make the world a better place,” a petroleum engineer, Martin Onovo said.
However, lack of affordable and reliable electricity in Nigeria creates a massive real and opportunity cost to Africa’s largest economy.
For perspective, the West African country is roughly the size of Texas, with a 200 million population larger than Russia, and generates less gigawatt hours of electricity annually than the U.S. state of Connecticut.
Nigerian businesses (and citizens) adjust for these power deficiencies by spending on diesel fuel and generators.
The IMF’s 2019 Nigeria report quoted economic losses of $29 billion in Nigeria due to unreliable electricity supply. On global Doing Business rankings, Nigeria ranked 169 out of 190 countries in the category of “Getting Electricity”.
Rensource began commercial operations in 2016. It is a leading renewable energy and merchant services company revolutionizing energy provision in Africa by building and operating clean energy based microutilities for SME clusters in Nigeria. It is Nigeria’s fastest growing provider of off-grid energy, powering the productivity of small and medium size enterprises.
COVID-19: World Bank approves $114 million response funds for Nigeria
FG is expected to provide grants from the CoPREP to the 36 states and the FCT.
The World Bank has approved the sum of $114 million to assist Nigeria in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The fund is to help Nigeria prevent, identify and respond to the dangers associated with the coronavirus disease with special focus on the various states and the Federal Capital Territory.
This was disclosed in a statement from the bank on Friday, August 7, 2020.
According to the statement, the funds come in the form of $100 million credit facility from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
It also states that the Federal Government is expected to provide grants from the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP) to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The World Bank Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, in a statement on Friday, said, “Nigeria has ramped up its efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, but more needs to be done at the states level, which are at the front line of the response.”
He disclosed that the project would provide the states with the much needed direct technical and fiscal support in order to strengthen their position in the fight against the pandemic.
The World Bank Chief also pointed out that the project would finance federal procurements of medical equipment, laboratory tests and medicines to be distributed to the states based on their needs.
According to the World Bank, CoPREP would finance further support to all the 36 states and the FCT through the NCDC to implement the COVID-19 Incident Action Plan.
Nigeria has recorded about 45,687 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease with 936 fatalities and 32,637 people discharged as at August 7, 2020. Some serious concerns have been raised about the country’s testing capacity, which though has improved is still regarded as inadequate.
How Nike rejection birthed sports wear industry in Nigeria
To Udezue, sport is more about creating opportunities than just winning trophies.
For many years, Nigerian sports had to depend on foreign brands for all kinds of sporting and leisure wears. In doing this, Nigeria was also ceding to these countries the opportunities that came with the business of sports. None of these changed, until Africa for Africa (AFA) Sports started out in Nigeria years ago.
Recently on Nairametrics Business Half Hour show, Founder of Africa for Africa (AFA) Sports talked about how Nike’s rejection became the birth of an industry in Nigeria.
Ugo Udezue had come to Nigeria to establish the Continental Basketball League, (CBL) after spending 17 years with BDA Sports management in California. At this time, he saw sports as being “more about creating opportunities than just winning trophies”.
What he saw was the prospects of creating a whole economy built around the game – alternate relaxation options for workers who had spent long hours at work, and better opportunities for people to trade their wares and entertain guests during the games.
A major kitting challenge came up for the CBL, as most of the foreign brands did not seem to cater for the African climate. The kits and balls being used had been designed by foreign brands using their weather condition and environment as the guiding factor. Because of this, they could not cater to the needs of the Nigerian basketball players.
“The balls were not designed to absorb sweat and so the players kept dropping the balls. Even the jerseys and shoes had clearly not been designed for the African weather since we did not play the game in air-conditioned courts,” he explained.
When Udezue reached out to Nike to seek Apparel sponsorship for the CBL, he received the shocking news that “Africa was not in their plans at the time”.
This rejection, though a short term challenge, became the inspiration behind founding AFA Sports, done by Africans to cater to the sporting needs of Africans.
As you may well know, there were foreign companies sponsoring Nigerian teams at the time, making jerseys and other apparel. But because they were not producing these things locally, they were depriving the country of the opportunities and benefits which should have come with such ventures.
Gradually, Udezue and his team moved from the initial years of chaos and unprofitability, to growing AFA Sports into the biggest performing sports brand in Africa. The company’s products are now shipped to different countries.
In a couple of years, the dream started to materialise when AFA sports became the official apparel sponsor of the Nigerian National Basketball team D’Tigers during the Afro Basket 2017 competition. It was a major game-changer for sporting in Africa.
An industry waiting to explode
Manufacturing in Nigeria is often thought of along the lines or agricultural and industrial products, without much attention on the sporting and leisure industry. From jerseys to tracksuits, leisure wears, boots, balls, caps and others, there is a whole economy waiting to be explored.
“I saw sports as a way to create wealth. I realised that it was an opportunity to create jobs for Nigerians while meeting the need for football clothing, and for as long we keep sourcing these materials from the foreign brands, we will miss out on ways we could have used it to empower our economy,” Udezue said.
With these items produced locally at the factories and even exported to other countries, jobs are created for Nigerians. AFA sports, for instance, has three factories in Lagos state where it employs people to carry out its productions of sports and leisure wears.
Beyond saving Nigeria the cost implications of importing such products, the products are now being exported to other African countries bringing in some foreign exchange for Nigeria.
As Nigeria moves towards self-sufficiency, there is the need to pay attention to the sports economy and its attendant benefits. Much more than sponsorships, hosting games in local economy can turn the fortunes of small business owners in the locality, given them a wider market and increased income.
Facebook, Microsoft lash out at Apple over gaming apps
Microsoft and Facebook facing challenges in bringing cloud gaming services on iOS devices.
The world’s leading technology brands, Facebook and Microsoft, recently bashed Apple for its restrictive App Store policies, which they claim prevents them from launching their gaming services on Apple devices.
Microsoft also disclosed that it will no longer be launching a limited testing version of the app on iOS. The gaming platform Microsoft had created for Apple devices can only support one game, which Microsoft said was due to Apple’s App Store policies.
Microsoft revealed that such policies set by Apple will make it unable to launch its game streaming service commercially on iOS due to these limitations.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement Friday.
“Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content.”
The social media giant finally struggled to launch an Apple version of its gaming app on Friday, but it disclosed that it was compelled to make a concession to bring it on Apple’s App Store and had to remove the ability to play games instantly.
“Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app – meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android,” Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement Friday.
“We’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month — whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”
Microsoft and Facebook seem not to be the only ones facing challenges in bringing cloud gaming services on iOS devices. Google’s Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce had also experienced difficulties in launching iOS versions of their apps due to the App Store’s guidelines.
READ MORE: Apple unveils a new credit card, Apple Card
Will Apple cave in?
“There is quite a lot of pressure building from different entities, and they are attempting to build consumer awareness of the issues involved as a way to convince Apple to change its policies,” Piers Harding-Rolls, research director of games at Ampere Analysis, told CNBC.
“Is it inevitable that Apple will cave in? Not necessarily. Apple is plowing its own path with privacy and how it wants to manage its ecosystem.”