Nuru, a solar energy startup based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, wants to provide 24-hour electricity for five million people in the country. Its Series B raise of $40 million is still a long way from the $300 million needed to achieve this goal.

Nuru, an alternative energy startup in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has raised $40 million in Series B equity funding. The round was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), Proparco, E3 Capital, Voltalia, the Schmidt Family Foundation, GAIA Impact Fund, and the Joseph Family Foundation. While the IFC’s equity investment also includes financing from the Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Program, the company hopes to close off an additional $28 million in project finance by the end of July. AltRaise was the exclusive financial advisor to Nuru on both the Series B transaction and accompanying project finance.

The fund will be used to build three mini-grids in parts of eastern DRC—Goma, Kindu, and the largest in Bunia. With a combination of solar power and batteries, the total generation capacity will be 13.7 megawatts. Nuru, whose name means light in Swahili, has four other cities in eastern DRC already operating with its mini-grids. 

DRC has a population of about 100 million people, but less than 20% of the population has access to energy. Many of those who lack access to energy are in eastern DRC. The mini-grids provide an opportunity for the use of renewable energy and bypass the use of fossil fuels for power generation in the region which has little to no electrification.

Nuru’s utility-scale solar mini-grids are designed to provide 24/7 reliable and renewable energy to the communities they are installed. This will help improve climate resilience and sustainable development, which the country desperately needs.

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Founded as Kivu Green Energy in 2015 by Jonathan Shaw, a Kenya-born American, the company built Congo’s first mini-grid in 2017. Three years later, it opened a 1.3-megawatt facility in the city of Goma, making it the largest mini-grid in sub-Saharan Africa with no connection to a national grid. 

“We are thrilled to partner with such a dynamic group of investors who are keen to drive our vision of expanding energy access and transforming five million lives in the DRC. Closing the Series B is a significant milestone in Nuru’s journey, but also demonstrates the viability of the metrogrid model in the distributed energy sector in Africa,” Shaw commented after the raise. “Nuru extends its heartfelt appreciation to the consortium of investors for their visionary support and unwavering commitment to Nuru’s vision. Together, we will continue to illuminate lives, drive economic growth, and empower communities across the DRC.”

Earlier in March, initial investments from REPP, Proparco, and E3 Capital bridged a financing gap at Nuru to bolster their Series B equity fundraise. The three investors each committed $500,000 in a convertible note round.

In 2018, Nuru raised $3.8 million in its Series A round, which was led by E3 Capital (formerly Energy Access Ventures), with EDFI ElectriFI. The investment was catalytic in building Nuru’s current operating mini-grid portfolio in the cities of Goma, Beni, Tadu, and Faradje.

Bloomberg reports that a $90-million Series C round is expected to get underway later this year. This is as the company aims to raise $300 million to hit its target to serve five million people in DRC by September 24, 2024

Noah Banjo Senior Editor

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