May 20, 2024
ENGIE Equatorial Increases Impact in Off-Grid Communities; Appoints New CEO
– By Godswill Odiong

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One year after commissioning the Lolwe hybrid solar 600 kWp mini-grid and its Productive Hub, ENGIE Equatorial is proud to announce the results achieved so far: over 15,000 people now have access to clean electricity, purified water and agro-processing services. 700 businesses are provided with productive energy and will be supported with appliance financing from the partnership with EnerGrow and food waste is reduced thanks to the use of the ice and drying services provided by the Productive Hub.

Tackling the need for sustainable transport, ENGIE Equatorial has also put in place an e-mobility program with electric outboard engines for fishermen, e-motorcycles for taxis and a battery charging service on the island. The pilot has now generated evidence and data key to the development of the transport sector in Lake Victoria, with a potential of substituting 30,000 diesel boat engines.

After a successful initial phase of operations, characterised by substantial testing of technologies and commercial strategies, ENGIE Equatorial is now EBITDA positive and set to implement a number of significant learnings to further improve economics, including a re-powering of its storage component to drastically reduce diesel consumption, while further increasing service offering.

‘It has been an exciting year, full of challenges and learnings, where we have finally proven our vision that de-centralised consumer facing service-integration is key to accelerating bankable universal energy access’’ said Riccardo Ridolfi, CEO of Equatorial Power who was the author of the partnership with ENGIE Energy Access and has led ENGIE Equatorial from concept to reality.

As the company now looks to expand its operations to new sites and countries and continues to focus on optimizing operations, ENGIE Equatorial is happy to announce the appointment of Francesca Oliva as the new CEO from March 1st, 2023. Francesca brings a wealth of experience from her role as COO of Equatorial Power and from 15 years of work with and for the development of off-grid communities in Uganda and East Africa.

‘I am humbled and proud to take this role, and I look forward to expanding the impact we are seeing today in Lolwe island by boosting our vision of integrated development and shared value creation’ states Francesca Oliva.

Going forward, the company is set to boost the number of people that will access clean water and electricity and to continue expanding the economic possibilities in the fish industry with the sale of dried fish to high quality markets. The company will keep on working also in the direction of promoting new impactful business opportunities to increase services that will be bundled with electricity sales.

Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO of ENGIE Energy Access sums up the impact of the project stating that, “the Lolwe mini-grid’s distributed renewable technology and integrated business model has improved the lives and economic perspective of communities living far from the grid. As a next step, we will replicate the Lolwe mini-grid 2.0 in 10 islands in Uganda and begin expansion to other countries.

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