Solar in Africa? There’s an ISA for that

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 18th Oct 2017

If solar energy makes sense anywhere in the world, it has to be Africa.

It’s not just that the sun shines so intensely there, it’s also because the continent’s electricity grid is relatively underdeveloped – and now solar is looking a lot cheaper than it was say, 10 years ago, it makes more sense for the energy network being built to be based upon cheap, clean, infinite solar, than to bother with building what will be a rapidly outmoded fossil fuel-powered system.

For normal investors, it’s not easy to gain exposure to African development, but Ethex, the investment platform, has just changed that with the launch of a tax-free ISA product, offering investors a target return of 6 per cent, from £50, plus the feel-good factor of knowing your money is being put to excellent use.

The “Energise Africa” ISA funds will be used to install “life-changing” solar power in African homes.

The ISA on offer is an “Innovative Finance ISA” (IFISAs) available via the website. Your IFISA allowance can be up to the £20,000 maximum yearly ISA allowance, or you can divide your £20,000 annual allowance between different types of ISA (See our IFISA guide).

With this ISA, you can pick the location you want to see your money go to, as well as the term of the investment, which can be either two or three years.

The project raised £450,000 in its first 8-week pilot period from 150 investors.

Lisa Ashford, director of Lendahand Ethex, said: “Solar energy access is hugely important from both a social development and environmental perspective. Whether it’s promoting gender equality, financial inclusion or improving health and education, the impact for families can be significant”.

600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, limiting their life chances.

The investment project is supported by UK Aid and Virgin Unite (the not-for-profit arm of Virgin Group). The objective of the project is to work towards UN Sustainable Development Goal number 7 – universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.

There are 19.5 million people in the UK already putting their money into investments that make a positive impact, according to Ethex.

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