12 November, 2021 Member article

ARE Member Okra Solar & SAO Group Partner to Power 10,000 Households

07 November 2021 – Australian technology company using advanced digital monitoring, billing and mesh-grids to make electrification more affordable to underserved communities in Africa and Asia, Okra Solar, recently signed an MoU with SAO Group, one of Africa’s leading social impact investment and multi-competency advisor firms to energise community households, Primary Healthcare Centers (PHC) and Digital Literacy Centers (DLC) in South-Western Nigeria.

This new alliance will see both parties work together to structure a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that will secure finance for the scale-out of Okra mesh-grids in Ondo and Kwara State. SAO and Okra Solar will be responsible for raising six million dollars for this SPV that will bring electricity to severely impacted communities, some of whom have been without electricity for three years despite being connected to the grid.

Currently, SAO has agreements in place with the Kwara state government for the electrification of up to 1,000 schools, and an agreement with the Ondo state government for the electrification of up to 584 primary health care centers.

“There are over 150,000 unelectrified households in the proximity of schools and PHCs in these areas that would be suitable for electrification through Okra’s mesh-grid technology,” said Indranil Roy, Business Development Manager, Okra Solar Nigeria on the selection criteria for the pilot project. “Visiting the communities in Kwara that we considered for the pilot, it was clear that in addition to powering the households, we need to be connecting the schools and PHCs as well.”

Speaking further on their plans, Ayodeji Sotinrin, CEO, SAO Group said, “As a company that takes pride in our reputation for quality work across many sectors of Nigeria’s environment, we are delighted to have partnered with Okra for the roll-out of clean and very affordable energy solutions, starting in rural communities, where households are primarily dependent on imported fuels or have no energy at all. This programme will ensure every household is given access to energy, our primary health facilities are no longer faced with operating under torchlight and our schools have the required supply of power to enable the introduction of Information Technology systems to its curriculum, allowing for enhanced education, increased employability and better livelihoods to all.”

As part of SAO Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, the group will finance two pilot projects that will provide 24-hour energy to 198 households, two schools and two PHCs. This will also validate the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within the SPV business model, and furthermore, act as a
showcase to attract funding from national and international donor organisations. This pilot project is aimed for commissioning in March 2022 and is eligible under the NEP program supported by the REA, World Bank and African Development Bank. It is a showcase of a new technology and business model being introduced to the Nigerian off-grid electrification ecosystem.