Okra Solar Raises $12m to Boost Mesh-Grid Electrification

September 4, 2023
okra solar

By Adedapo Adesanya

Okra Solar, known for pioneering mesh-grid technology, has closed a Series-A round of financing to scale mesh-grid technology with more than $12 million of fresh financing in debt and equity.

The company, which provides IoT-enabled hardware and software to last-mile energy companies so they can profitably energize remote off-grid communities, raised $7.85 million on equity led by At One Ventures, along with FMO, Susquehanna Private Equity Investments LLLP, Autodesk Foundation and King Philanthropies. The debt financing was provided by EDFi.

During the Series-A fundraising round, Okra also leveraged the support of GetInvest EU, a European programme that mobilizes investment in renewable energy in developing countries.

The Abuja-based company told Business Post that it will use the fresh injection to scale the technology in rural areas where scalability is highly sensitive to cost viability, mesh-grids present a compelling solution to energy developers.

Mesh grids enable solar power to be generated at the source of individual homes, where excess power is then redistributed by Okra’s smart algorithms from one connection to the next to optimize utilization. What makes mesh grids unique from traditional mini-grids or grid extensions is that rather than sending power long distances from a centralized generation house, power only travels between neighbouring houses. This hyper-decentralized implementation reduces the cost of distribution (cables and poles) by up to 90 per cent while maximizing up-time and power availability.

This could potentially help reduce the staggering  700 million people worldwide still living without access to electricity, and with status quo efforts, this number will increase by 2030.

The world is also facing widespread copper shortages, and this has created an opportunity for mesh grids, a technology that has rapidly established itself as a game-changer in this industry.

For Okra, its Business-2-Business (B2B) model supplies technology to last-mile energy utilities, who then energize last-mile households, a core need that can impact livelihoods in the Global South.

Speaking on this, Okra’s CEO, Afnan Hannan, said, “It’s clear that mesh grids are the most efficient way to achieve last-mile electrification. It starts by ensuring off-grid people have access to basic services such as lighting, e-cooking, and water pumping, and next, to have all of these people connect to the global digital economy. Now we need the regulations to keep up with exponential technology advancement for us to hit 100 per cent electrification by 2030.”

On the part of investors, Marieke Roestenberg, Manager of the FMO Ventures Programme, said, “FMO is proud to partner with Okra on their pioneering journey to leverage mesh-grid technology to help electrify rural areas and provide affordable power to last-mile households and businesses. We look forward to our collaboration with the Okra team and will actively leverage our value-added services to support their scaling ambitions.”.

Okra has also made updates to its product offerings, including automated network planning software using geospatial data and monitoring of commercial performance down to the asset level. On the hardware side, Okra Pods are now stackable, so power output can be increased from 1.2kW AC up to 4.8kW AC power output. The latest version of the pods will also enable mesh grids to be inter-connectable to existing grid infrastructure.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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