Renewvia to Power Rural Areas in Africa
Following the recent launch of a mini grids project in Kenya, Renewvia Energy’s CEO Trey Jarrad spoke to Africa Oil & Power about its projects in Africa, their response to COVID-19 and the company’s plans to expand its footprint across the continent.
What is Renewvia Energy’s history in Kenya and Africa?
Renewvia Energy has been working in Kenya since 2015, and we recently announced our first two microgrids in Nigeria.
Our Rural Microgrid Development and Operation Model is
designed to scale reliable power in areas that are either unserved by conventional utilities, or ineligible for grid extension.
We construct standalone and hybrid solar photovoltaic and battery-powered plants that can accommodate additional capacity from wind or other sources of electricity.
We currently have a total of 11 microgrids in Kenya and Nigeria, and one commercial project in Kenya, providing the first reliable and affordable power to approximately 7,500 families and commercial locations. We have several other projects planned and/or permitted for both countries, and we expect to increase our power subscriber base to over 50,000 in the next 12 months.
What initiatives has Renewvia implemented to expand energy access in Kenya in the
context of COVID-19?
Access to reliable energy is especially critical in response to COVID-19, as a means to
enhance a community’s resilience and ability to address the global pandemic and
subsequent economic downturn. Even prior to COVID-19, Renewvia has been working
toward a major expansion of our mini grid footprint within rural communities unserved by
conventional utilities, in both Kenya and Nigeria. We are making several adjustments to
strengthen safety protocols to keep workers and communities safe, as we proceed with the
efforts underway to expand energy access in these countries.
What have been the primary obstacles to providing energy access to communities in this
I would not characterize anything as an obstacle. In entering a new country, it is important
to take time to understand the unique national and local regulations. With a significant
amount of work completed and the establishment of subsidiaries in both Kenya and Nigeria,
Renewvia has a deep understanding of how to work quickly and effectively in both
How do your markets differ in terms of receptiveness to mini grid solutions; who are you
partnering with and are there other development institutions and private sector
We have found both Nigeria and Kenya to be tremendously receptive when it comes to mini
grid solutions for rural, unserved and underserved communities, and we have worked with a
number of partners. In Nigeria, we recently announced two new mini grids in Bayelsa state
working closely with All On, the World Bank and the Rural Electrification Agency. For our
most recent announcement of three new mini grids in Northern Kenya, we worked with
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the Department for International
Development and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In addition, we recently partnered with Dream Projects Incubators to develop solar
microgrids in Kenya and Nigeria. Together we have formed a special purpose entity to
capitalize large portfolios of solar microgrid projects in sub-Saharan Africa, making us well-
positioned to efficiently develop thousands of microgrids across the region. The first ten
projects are partially capitalized with the French Development Bank and The World Bank.
Does Renewvia have plans to expand into more African countries?
Yes, we are actively looking to expand our work across the African continent, especially in
rural areas with the greatest need for reliable, clean, affordable electrification. We are
forming Renewvia Energy Africa, for all of Renewvia’s sub Saharan subsidiaries and assets,
to be contributed to with an additional $350 million in equity and debt that we are currently
raising to further capitalize 1000 microgrids over the next five years.
Renewvia Energy Corporation is a global solar developer headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with international offices in Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda. Since its founding in 2008,
Renewvia has designed, installed, owned and operated over 80 megawatts of power across
the United States, Pacific Islands, South America and sub-Saharan Africa.