Explore our latest news and publications, documents, and resources related to the work of the EAP.
November 8, 2023
Electric Rice Mills Reduce Reliance on Soaring Diesel Prices in Niger State, Nigeria
The REA-RMI Energizing Agriculture Programme is helping Nigerian farmers build viable businesses by providing efficient and cheaper-to-run electric rice mills with affordable financing options.
At today’s fuel prices, Mohammed Aliyu’s diesel-powered rice mill sometimes costs him more to run than he makes selling the end product, resulting in losses for his business. His experience is not unique. Smallholder farmers contributing 80 percent of Nigeria’s rice production have seen their diesel costs quadruple since the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, since they rely on inefficient equipment that breaks up to half of the grains processed, their poor-quality produce cannot compete with higher-priced imports that have flooded the market as rice has become a staple of the Nigerian diet. Mohammed and his peers struggle as the Nigerian rice market booms. It’s now worth $3 billion annually and is projected to grow annually by 16 percent in the coming years. Federal and state governments are keen to capture the value generated by rice cultivation, processing, and trade within their borders but expensive processing has hindered smallholders from seeing the benefits.
There is a solution to Mohammed’s plight: ditching his diesel-powered mill for an electric one.
Electric rice mills are more efficient and cheaper to power than diesel mills but are outside the reach of Nigeria’s rural population for two main reasons: their steep upfront cost and a dearth of electricity to power them. Just one-quarter of Nigeria’s rural population has access to electricity.
Mohammed is lucky. He lives in Danchitagi community, where a 200 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar minigrid by PowerGen Renewable Energy has provided 24/7 electricity to residents since January 2022. Though he now has access to electricity, his next step is to find the funds to buy a new electric rice mill. The electric mill costs roughly NGN 500,000 (about $500), which is almost 40 percent of Mohammed’s annual income. As in many rural areas, credit availability and uptake in Danchitagi is low because of the population’s lack of credit history, high-interest rates from lenders, and cultural perceptions of debt.
Today, with support from the Energizing Agriculture Programme (EAP),Mohammed leases an energy-efficient EcoPro rice mill from his utility provider on a contract requiring a down payment of just 5% of the total cost.
The EAP is a three-year collaboration between the Rural Electrification Agency and RMI that pairs the growing number of rural minigrids with productive uses of electricity in agriculture. In pursuit of this mission, the EAP brought together Danchitagi’s electricity provider, PowerGen, and an agricultural equipment retailer, Energy Excell, to lease electric rice mills to local processors and allow them to repay the total cost over 18-24 months. This appliance financing scheme has boosted the affordability of improved rice processing equipment and received much interest from farmers who want to grow their businesses. Eighty farmers living in Danchitagi and five neighboring communities that host solar minigrids were ready to make down payments for mills after they saw them trialed.
Mohammed has already seen the benefits of the new mill. It breaks fewer grains compared to his old machine and better removes the rice paddy’s husks. He reported charging 10 percent more per bag due to the improved quality. He’s now paying PowerGen, the local utility, for convenient electricity instead of paying NGN 1,200/liter (about $5.70/gallon) for diesel. In the first six months of the pilot, Mohammed and the other four electric millers have collectively used 4 MWh of renewable electricity from PowerGen minigrids. RMI will estimate energy cost savings and other metrics after more pilot data has been collected. In the meantime, the project collaborators are monitoring how the mills are used by beneficiaries and the effects of the new machinery on their businesses and livelihoods.
Minigrid-powered agricultural processing presents an opportunity to better the lives of farmers such as Mohammed across Nigeria.
However, achieving that feat requires a viable business model for delivering the machines to customers and an ecosystem of investors and companies willing to actualize projects on the ground:
- Electricity providers delivering sufficient, low-cost electricity in rice-producing communities
- Rice mill fabricators and retailers building or importing machines that suit local processors
- Financiers providing affordable credit to processors to reduce the upfront cost of acquiring new mills and allow them to spread repayments over time.
For this reason, the EAP is also bringing together private sector players in the energy, agriculture, and financial services sectors to foster partnerships that will scale electric rice milling to hundreds of rural communities increasingly electrified with minigrids. In doing this, the demand for electricity will rise in rural Nigeria, bringing added revenues to the utilities providing energy services and encouraging further investment in improving energy access rates there. The EAP is proving a new clean energy driven model for rural economic development that allows the agrarian population to realize higher incomes from the value chains they have long been involved in and improve their livelihoods.
Project Partner Spotlight
PowerGen Renewable Energy is a leading private power company operating across Africa. It was founded in 2011 to make renewable energy accessible to more people on the continent. Today, they build and manage power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable electricity to customers. PowerGen has offices in four countries, including Nigeria, hundreds of projects deployed, and tens of thousands of people benefitting from their energy services every day. In Nigeria, PowerGen has deployed fourteen solar minigrids to date, with three more in construction.
Energy Excell Systems and Solutions (EESL) is a renewable energy social enterprise committed to providing customers with high-quality, energy-efficient productive use equipment and appliances. EESL was established in 2013, and they have since partnered with minigrid developers, women’s and farmer’s cooperatives, and community groups to drive demand stimulation and increase household incomes in communities. EESL provides various services in the productive use sector, including equipment supply and sales, equipment financing, training and capacity-building, and after-sales support services.
This pilot is one of many that are testing energy-agriculture business models around Nigeria through the EAP’s Agriculture-Energy Innovation Accelerator. Read more at energizingagricultureprogramme.org/insights
July 17, 2023
A Blueprint for Productive Use of Clean Energy: An Accelerator in Nigeria Generates Solutions for Linking Mini-Grids to Agricultural Equipment in Rural Communities
There are over 70 mini-grids in operation in Nigeria today. Most of these isolated power systems are powered by a combination of solar power, battery storage and small diesel generators that provide back-up power when needed, with the goal of delivering reliable clean energy to communities that are accessing electricity for the first time. Many energy businesses want to serve these new communities, and with over 85 million Nigerians lacking access to grid electricity, a market for their services exists.
But serving a new community that has never had power presents some unique challenges — not only in Nigeria but across the developing world. It requires energy companies to find and convince customers — who typically lack the equipment and appliances to use power — to sign up for electricity services they’ve learned to live without. It also requires them to convince local businesses, generally in the agriculture processing sector, to swap out their existing (still serviceable) gas-powered rice and flour mills or cassava graters and invest in new electric versions — which necessitates investments that are hard for these local businesses to fund without access to affordable sources of financing. Energy providers are not equipment and finance experts, they are in the business of generating, distributing and selling power to consumers. But if users lack the means to use the power they sell, the energy providers’ revenue model fails.
THE CHALLENGES OF BOOSTING DEMAND FOR PRODUCTIVE USES OF CLEAN ENERGY
Partnerships can help address some of these challenges. Ideally these involve an energy and equipment provider partnering to enter a new community, then working together to find customers, understand their needs and make investment decisions in tandem. These partnerships can also help inform some of the key decisions energy companies must make at the planning stage of projects, since cross-cutting expertise from equipment providers can help them avoid added costs later on. For instance, equipment providers can help them determine how big a battery bank to invest in and how far to extend their network infrastructure. And energy companies can advise equipment providers on which electrical loads make sense to serve with a mini-grid system, which can help these providers prioritize customers and determine which equipment models to retail locally.
But making these decisions collaboratively requires businesses to find partners that share interest in the same regions and value chains, and that have the operational capacity to deliver. It also requires the partners to line up the money to fund their customer engagement activities, and to make the right staff available at the opportune time — i.e., before a competitor swoops in on a preferred site. Finding the right partner and learning how to work collaboratively is difficult, and these partnerships often fail to materialize unless an external entity steps in to take on the coordination role. This is because energy use companies (such as equipment providers) and energy supply companies do not tend to interact with each other under normal circumstances, and they each have limited staff to lead coordination efforts.
Funding these demand-side efforts presents another key issue. It took decades for policymakers and their development sector partners to relinquish their “if you build it, they will come” approach to designing energy access programs, and to broaden their perspective to consider not only the need for more supply, but also the challenges of creating demand for energy services. To take one example: As recently as the period from 2000 to 2008, investment in supply expansion represented almost half of the nearly $4 billion in total investment the World Bank approved for energy access, whereas investment in productive use represented just 0.7%.
As awareness of the demand-side challenge in energy access has increased, there has been growing recognition among policymakers and development sector players that they must consider demand stimulation by funding productive uses of electricity — i.e., the use of electricity for income-generating activities, which are predominantly agricultural in rural communities — alongside supply-side infrastructure financing. And yet the need for financing for productive use equipment and the solar systems needed to power them remains large, with some estimates as high as $86 billion per year from 2020 to 2030 in sub-Saharan Africa. And even when sufficient financing is made available, it remains difficult to craft policy solutions that address the needs of the entrepreneurs who deliver the electric equipment and services to consumers.
What’s more, even well-intentioned policymakers often develop solutions that miss their mark. For example, the Nigeria Electrification Project allocated a considerable amount of development funding (US $20 million) to support demand stimulation alongside its mini-grid development efforts. However, these funds were provided as results-based financing that was disbursed only after verifying that the appliances had been deployed in communities. Although this type of support is necessary at later stages to scale a market, it is not the right solution for nascent markets in which emerging companies are still fine-tuning their business models and technologies. Since these businesses operate with limited funds and lack access to upfront financing, they are often unable to fund the deployment of productive use products in these markets in the first place, much less take advantage of results-based financing on offer only after successful deployment.
These are some of the challenges that make the implementation and ongoing viability of clean energy access projects difficult. So how can the sector work more effectively to make productive use happen in rural communities?
A BLUEPRINT FOR PRODUCTIVE USE OF MINI-GRID ENERGY
Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and RMI are addressing this need by enabling the doers, the people ready to roll up their sleeves to find the right partners and develop productive use solutions that work in challenging markets. We’re doing this by providing them with the short-term coaching and strategic matchmaking they need as they learn to do something new, in lockstep with flexible upfront funding that enables them to test these new and often risky ideas.
In a little over a year, we’ve forged partnerships with nearly 30 organizations to form eight teams that are designing and testing energy-agriculture business models. Each team includes at least one agriculture appliance company and at least one mini-grid provider, which work together to sell both appliances and mini-grid electricity to new customers who currently have neither. The teams are now electrifying productive uses of Nigerian mini-grid electricity in almost 20 pilot sites across the country, testing the viability of 11 business models. These models range from using electric two-wheelers to run farmer extension services, to electrifying existing processing operations like cassava grating and maize and rice milling, which are currently powered by diesel.
If implemented at scale in Nigeria, these productive use efforts are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million tons of CO2 by 2030, and by 7.4 million tons over the full life-cycles of the supported electric machinery. They’re also projected to create or improve over 150,000 jobs and positively impact the livelihoods of nearly 4 million Nigerians. This approach can also provide a blueprint that other companies and projects can use to scale the productive use of mini-grids in other countries and regions.
As this project demonstrates, productive use can’t happen without strategic partnerships. Energy developers, equipment providers, and agriculture and value chain experts each have different pieces of the puzzle. To establish and grow productive uses of mini-grid energy, it’s essential to enable these actors to contribute their unique knowledge to the design of business models that bring electric-powered equipment (and the services enabled by these devices) to customers in remote locations.
In Nigeria, the Energizing Agriculture Programme (EAP) Innovation Accelerator, co-led by RMI and the REA, is providing the ecosystem to make these partnerships happen. After identifying a problem on the agriculture side that electricity can solve (e.g., how to reduce energy cost volatility and improve the efficiency of oil palm milling), the accelerator started by identifying companies with a business interest in solving that problem. It then connected them with energy providers they could partner with, and with market experts who could advise them in developing and fine-tuning their business model to reach this new market. By bringing these actors together and tasking them with solving a specific problem, the accelerator created a space for collaboration and problem-solving, enabling them to work through pressing challenges and technical questions and identify concrete solutions (e.g., co-developing a lease-to-own business model for electric palm oil milling equipment). By hosting match-making sessions and bootcamps, it provided opportunities for peer-to-peer networking focused on sharing cross-sector expertise across agriculture and energy, and helped foster the relationships these teams needed to make joint projects happen. Through close follow-up and problem-solving support by a team of dedicated coaches, the accelerator converted these early conversations into real partnerships with concrete project commitments, and provided flexible funding to implement pilots to test the proposed business models.
The EAP, with partners like VIDA and ESMAP among others, will continue to provide Innovation Accelerator companies with an ecosystem of support, helping to identify and advance a concrete investment pipeline to scale viable agriculture electrification models. But these companies will need follow-on financing to access the growth capital they need to expand into new markets and communities.
To that end, this year the accelerator’s pilots will start to provide us with the data that shows which models are viable and can scale. This information, alongside a concrete pipeline of new projects that these companies will pursue after they have refined their business models through the accelerator, will be crucial to informing investment decisions by funders. These funders’ participation in the ecosystem is vital, as they will provide the financing these companies need to scale.
In the coming months the EAP and its partners will amplify the lessons and insights learned from the current Innovation Accelerator pilots, with a special focus on sharing the information that investors need to make their funding decisions. To keep abreast of these findings and other news surfacing from the EAP, please visit the program’s website here.
Photo courtesy of Maheder Haileselassie / IWMI.
June 26, 2023
Keeping The Catch Fresh: Fishers Cut Spoilage with Solar Minigrid in Kiguna, Nigeria
In Kiguna, Nigeria, a solar minigrid-powered cold room reduces post-harvest losses and increases profits for fishers and fish traders.
Alia Umoru, a 40-year-old mother of eight, has spent the past 20 years gutting and smoking her husband’s catch of croaker, tilapia, and catfish over a wood fire by night. She wakes up early to sell her dry, shelf-stable smoked fish in the market. Her family is one of 300 receiving reliable electricity from a Husk Power minigrid in Kiguna, Nasarawa state, Nigeria, but she does not own a refrigerator herself.
Despite her best efforts, Umoru faces difficulty preserving fish for more than a few days after it is caught. The exhaust from her oil drum wood smoker exposes her to harmful levels of fine particulate and carbon monoxide pollution, and the process is slow, sometimes forcing her to sell the fresh fish at a low price, lest they spoil. Fishers in the community also face this problem. “There are times the fish pile up with no one to buy them, and the fish just wastes.” says Mahwiya Haruna, a 32-year-old father of four who has been fishing for 12 years. These challenges are shared by millions of artisanal fishers in rural communities across Nigeria who collectively contribute 80 percent of total fish production and who lose up to 50 percent of their capture to spoilage.
Access to cold storage could boost Umoru and Haruna’s incomes by allowing them to preserve their products and then sell in high-value markets like nearby cities, where prices can be up to five times what they get locally. But cold storage is rare in rural Nigeria, where most households lack access to electricity.
Thanks to the REA-RMI Energizing Agriculture Programme, local entrepreneurs like Umoru and Haruna can now use the solar minigrid-tied cold room pilot to extend the shelf life of their fish products. This helps to reduce losses and enables them to sell their products to high-value markets, ultimately increasing their revenues.
Starting this June, Umoru and Haruna’s worries about spoilage will be over; they will be able to store their catch safely and make more money in the process. Kiguna community is one of a growing number of communities across Nigeria where solar-hybrid minigrids provide reliable energy and open the door to productive uses of energy like cold storage. With support from the REA-RMI Energizing Agriculture Programme (EAP), a partnership between cold chain start-up Coldbox Store and Husk Power is powering a 3-ton walk-in cold room that extends the shelf life of the local catch from days to months.
The cold room, powered by solar energy from the minigrid, maintains a temperature of -30 degrees Celsius. Local fishers and traders, such as Haruna, can pay to store their fish in the cold room or sell it to Coldbox Store. Coldbox Store will buy up to 3,000 kilograms of fish every week, store it, and distribute the frozen fish to off-takers in nearby cities. They keep the fish frozen from rural Kiguna to the end-consumers using a cold chain comprised of the minigrid-tied cold room, temperature-controlled trucks, and large urban cold storage centres near their buyers. Off-takers will pay a service fee for the use of this cold chain infrastructure to maintain product quality. The EAP supported this project by connecting Husk Power and Coldbox Store, assisting with their business model and deployment plans, and providing grant funds for the equipment.
When asked how she expects the cold room to impact her business going forward, Umoru said, “Now I do not have to worry about the fish going bad, so I don’t have to sell at a loss to customers anymore.” The availability of the cold room will allow fishers and traders to avoid rushed sales and sell their products at better prices. It also means less need to smoke the fish, improving the health of Umoru and other traders used to standing over wood smokers for hours a day. Furthermore, Coldbox Store’s fish distribution to nearby cities will bring in an extra profit of ₦200 per kilogram for fishers, such as Haruna. This will enable Haruna to earn an additional ₦10,000 per week, ultimately enhancing his productivity.
This pilot project has the potential to benefit fishers significantly in the Kiguna catchment area, and our partners are enthusiastic about its impact. If replicated, solar-powered cold storage can boost the productivity of millions of artisanal fishers in Nigeria.
With over 100 households involved in the fish value chain in the Kiguna area, the partners working on this project are excited and optimistic about its impact. Uzochukwu Mbamalu, CEO of Coldbox Store, says, “This project will decrease post-harvest losses in Kiguna by over 30 metric tonnes annually, increase fishers’ income by over 30 percent per catch, and enhance their participation in fishing as an economic activity.” Olu Aruike, Nigeria Country Director for Husk Power Systems, is optimistic about the project’s potential to boost the local economy. “This is a real-world example of Husk’s mission to catalyze thriving rural economies. Husk and Coldbox Store are opening up new possibilities for our customers while improving their incomes and livelihoods.” he adds.
Replicating solar-powered cooling projects like the Kiguna cold room can be an efficient and effective way to prevent post-harvest loss and boost the productivity and income of millions of small artisanal fishers across Nigeria. This pilot project aims to establish the solution’s effectiveness and inform a strategy for expanding cold storage solutions in rural communities across the country.
This pilot is one of many that are testing energy-agriculture business models around Nigeria through the EAP’s Agriculture-Energy Innovation Accelerator. Read more at energizingagricultureprogramme.org/insights
March 8, 2023
Prado Power, in Collaboration with USADF, RMI & Charm Impact, Commission Solar Mini-Grid and Agro-Processing Hub in Mbiabet Ikot, Nigeria
This press release originally appeared on Prado Power’s website. Prado Power is a member of the Energizing Agriculture Programme’s Agriculture-Energy Innovation Accelerator and their team writes here about a minigrid project they recently commissioned in collaboration with a consortium of partners.
Prado Power, February 2023—In line with our vision to improve energy access and provide sustainable power through clean energy sources to unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria, Prado Power recently commissioned a 20Kw solar-powered mini-grid and an agro-processing hub in Mbiabet community, Akwa Ibom State.
The project was initiated and developed with support from the Akwa Ibom State Government under the Solar Power Naija (SPN) initiative – Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) aimed at reaching 5 million new solar-based connections in non-grid-connected communities across Nigeria through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). Prado Power accessed low cost debt funding from Charm Impact UK to facilitate the deployment of the Solar Mini-grid while the agro-processing hub, powered by the mini-grids was supported by the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) through its African Resilience Initiative for Entrepreneurs (ARIE) grant, a Pan-African initiative to provide financial and technical assistance to entrepreneurs who have been impacted by COVID-19.
RMI (founded as Rocky Mountain Institute) supported the project through the Sharing the Power and Energizing Agriculture Programme (EAP) initiatives in Nigeria. The Sharing the Power initiative supports community-centered interventions on minigrid development that can improve system performance while increasing socioeconomic development and empowering minigrid communities. The EAP is co-led by the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and seeks to identify, de-risk, and scale market-led business models that pair minigrid communities with equipment and/or services that use power to support local livelihoods.
While the 20KW solar plant, which comes with a 75KWh battery storage, will provide electricity to Mbiabet Community with about 180 connections of residential households and commercial businesses within the community that previously lacked access to grid-connected power sources, the USADF-supported agro-processing hub which was co-developed in partnership with Farm Warehouse is equipped with garri processing machines and a 2 cold storage freezers, as well as a five-wheeler electric haulage cargo tricycle. The processing equipment were entrusted to select women within the Community on a lease to own basis to operate as a business to generate revenue while amortizing the cost of the equipment over a period of 24 months. This was specifically targeted at empowering the women within the Community by presenting them with this efficient agro-processing and cold storage equipment in a bid to ensure affordability and revenue maximization for the women. The equipment will be powered by the solar energy generated from the mini-grid project and will provide efficient agricultural processing to reduce post-harvest loses and increase the market value of their produce after processing thereby generating additional revenue. The model will not only help to create jobs, improve revenue generation, boost the local economy, reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation of farm produce to other communities for processing but is also specifically targeted at providing economic empowerment to women smallholders and SMEs who according to Bello, Baiyegunhi , Danso-Abbeam, & Ogundeji (2021), ‘constitute 30 – 80% of the smallholder workforce in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa and contribute 60 – 80% of the total food production in the region’.
The project was officially commissioned by the Executive Director (Technical Services) of the Nigeria Rural Electrification Agency, Mr. Barka Sajou and the Commissioner for Power and Petroleum Resources of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. John Etim in the company of key stakeholders, including Mrs. Valerie Obot – Commissioner and Permanent Secretary of the Akwa-Ibom State Ministry of Power and Petroleum Development, Sascha Flesch, Project Manager, RMI, Engr. David Arinze, Program Officer, Diamond Development Initiatives who are the local implementing Partner of the USADF in Nigeria, Engr Washima Mede, the CEO of Prado Power, Community heads and residents of the Community as the project was received with great excitement by the Community dwellers.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Prado Power’s CEO, Engr. Washima Mede, while expressing gratitude for the support and partnership, highlighted the importance of the project in engendering the productive use of electricity and stimulating agrarian communities to acquire processing equipment that can be electrically powered. According to Washima, Prado Power identified the need to go beyond generating electricity for typical household and business purposes alone, but was inspired to catalyse the productive utilization of electricity through an agric-energy nexus which necessitated the strategic partnership with Farm Warehouse Limited to set-up and operate the agro-processing hubs powered by the Solar mini-grids. He emphasized that this project is capable of creating jobs and increasing economic activities in the community thereby boosting the local economy and Prado Power will be happy to proliferate this model to many other communities within Nigeria while also using it as good opportunity to empower women within the rural communities.
The commissioning and operation of the Mbiabet Solar Mini-grid and Agro-processing hub has positioned the community for inclusive and sustainable development.
About Prado Power
Over the past six years, Prado Power has provided cutting-edge renewable energy solutions for commercial, industrial, residential customers across urban and rural areas in Nigeria. With over 2MW of solar PV deployments and a focus on the productive use of minigrids in rural communities in tandem with agriculture hubs, Prado Power has a vision to resolve the region’s energy deficit and significantly empower smallholders economically through agro/energy deployments in rural communities. In pursuit of this, Prado Power is in constant engagement with internal and external stakeholders, including regulatory agencies, fund managers, and technical partners to pull together resources to make this vision a visible reality.
About Farm Warehouse
Farm Warehouse is an innovative agri-tech company that provides a range of services to smallholder farmers in rural communities in Sub-Saharan including access to improved seedlings, inputs, equipment, insurance, loans and market access for fresh and finished agricultural produce through our e-commerce platform www.market.farmwarehouse.ng. To date, Farm Warehouse has retrofitted and embedded 44 PUEs within clean energy mini–grids and on-boarded 201 smallholder farmers on its platform.
Founded as Rocky Mountain Institute, RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has staff in over 25 countries, including teams based in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria, and offices in Beijing; Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; and Washington, D.C. More information on RMI can be found at www.rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RMIAfrica.
The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to invest in African grassroots organizations, entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises. USADF’s investments promote local economic development by increasing incomes, revenues and jobs and creating pathways to prosperity for marginalized populations and underserved communities.
USADF focuses on fragile states and frontier markets, with an emphasis on the Sahel, the Horn, and the Great Lakes regions of Africa. We currently operate in 21 African countries, but have made investments in more than 40 African countries.