Our conviction in Africa’s vast potential is part of what fuels the climate investment strategy of the Cisco Foundation. Among our vision, we see the transition to clean energy not just as a necessity, but as a catalyst for inclusive growth and digital innovation. And through the Cisco Foundation’s $100 million Climate Commitment, we are investing wholeheartedly in this vision. Our recent investments into early-stage climate ventures SHYFT Power Solutions and Jaza Energy, following our previous limited partnership with The Catalyst Fund, are critical steps on our journey to help build a sustainable future across the continent.

Solving Africa’s Energy Gaps

Africa’s energy landscape is confronting a critical shortfall, with roughly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still lacking electricity, accounting for over 80% of the global population living without electricity​​​​. Due to the impracticalities of expanding grids due to geographical and financial constraints, the focus has shifted towards distributed energy resources.  Microgrids, and off-grid solutions are not just alternatives but necessities, particularly in reaching remote and rural communities with affordable and cost-effective energy solutions. Solar mini grids have been at the forefront of this sustainable transformation, with, according to the World Bank, an increase from about 500 installations in 2010 to more than 3,000 in sub-Saharan Africa today, and with plans for a further 9,000. By 2030, it is anticipated that the cost of electricity from mini grids could fall to as low as $0.20/kWh, making it the most affordable option for more than 60 percent of the population​​. Mini grids could help us achieve the ambitious UN Sustainable Development Goal 7, which aims for universal energy access by 2030.

Digitalization in Africa’s Energy Transition

In the realm of digital innovation, we must create seamless integration between off-grid and on-grid systems to ensure reliable and continuous access to electricity. This integration is key to transitioning from intermittent power supplies to a stable and resilient energy infrastructure. Other innovation priorities include the growth of cost-effective, scalable off-grid solutions that can reach the most vulnerable citizens, who are living at or under the global poverty line of $2.15 per day, as defined by the World Bank. Technology and digital solutions are central to this endeavor, as they enable the efficient and effective adoption of renewable energy sources, crucial for closing Africa’s extensive energy gap.

Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are also essential in enhancing the efficiency and scalability of distributed energy resources, such as off-grid systems, solar panels, and storage solutions. These technologies enable real-time monitoring and management of energy assets, thereby optimizing energy distribution and consumption. The Cisco Foundation is eager to support the potential of information and communication technologies, including IoT and software-enabled off-grid energy, to support the climate transition.

Two men in purple shirts installing renewable energy.
Example of a SHYFT Power installation. Photo provided by SHYFT Power.

Enter our new portfolio investees, SHYFT Power and Jaza Energy. SHYFT Power is pioneering the use of IoT to efficiently manage energy resources, while Jaza Energy is innovating by integrating solar-powered hubs with telecommunications towers. These initiatives illustrate the powerful synergy between connectivity and energy, which play a pivotal role in empowering underserved communities and contributes to a more connected and sustainable future in Africa. As part of the broader Cisco family, these investees of the Cisco Foundation Climate Commitment can access an extensive range of in-kind resources and volunteer advisory. This support not only furthers these technologies but also underscores our commitment to fostering innovative, sustainable, and more inclusive solutions globally.

SHYFT Power: Software & IoT Innovation for Reliable Clean Energy

A woman in a black dress standing next to renewable energy equipment.
Ugwem Eneyo, founder of SHYFT Power, alongside team members. Photo by SHYFT Power.

SHYFT Power Solutions, a 2017 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge recipient emerging from Stanford University, is transforming energy management in Nigeria, and has become a key player in the Cisco Foundation investment portfolio. Their advanced platform integrates various power sources to improve energy efficiency and encourage clean energy adoption. The innovation that SHYFT brings to the table is further exemplified by its utilization of IoT, software, and smart meter solutions, which are essential in tackling the energy access and reliability issues prevalent in Nigeria.

The positive impact of SHYFT Power has been echoed by its customers, as illustrated by the glowing feedback from Bola Yusuf, General Manager at Wemabod Towers in Ikoyi. He asserts, “As a property and facilities managers of a high-brow building providing 24-hour power, energy efficiency is crucial for us, and SHYFT has been instrumental in achieving transparency. Their smart energy solutions allow us to effectively monitor and optimize consumption, reducing costs, and supporting sustainability. What sets SHYFT apart is their exceptional customer support – prompt, knowledgeable, and they provide solutions tailored to our needs. They have been a valuable partner in our journey towards energy efficiency and cost savings.”

This direct endorsement underscores the seamless integration of IoT technology within their systems, demonstrating how digital solutions can significantly bolster sustainable energy management. SHYFT’s approach is pivotal in reducing carbon emissions and serves as a standard in the management of distributed energy resources. It’s with great enthusiasm that we join an esteemed list of climate investors backing SHYFT Power, including Powerhouse Ventures, Third Sphere, and KawiSafi Ventures.

Jaza Energy: Empowering Communities with Sustainable Energy

A wooden structure with palm trees behind it, lit up at night.
Example of a Jaza Hub in Tanzania. Photo provided by Jaza.

Jaza Energy, another new investment portfolio company, is revolutionizing clean energy access in Tanzania and Nigeria with its solar hubs.

In Tanzania, 66% of households still use kerosene for energy needs. Jaza hubs offer a sustainable alternative to those reliant on kerosene and generators, illuminating over 11,500 homes and benefiting 90,000 people. Jaza’s impactful partnership with IHS Towers, one of the world’s largest owners, operators and developers of shared communications infrastructure, integrates energy with telecommunication services, extending its reach.

By leveraging digital tools and advanced batteries, Jaza addresses the energy deficit impacting 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, where annual fossil fuel expenditure reaches $27 billion. Stories from Jaza’s hubs, like Agineta’s in Msambara, Tanzania, showcase the significant improvement in living standards” “The quality of the light allows me to work after dark and my children are able to study,” she says.

Jaza employs over 250 local women as “Jaza Stars,” further amplifying its social impact. One Jaza Star, employees responsible for sales and community development, from Mchori expressed, “After working with Jaza, I participate in decision-making in my family,” highlighting the empowerment brought by these roles.

We proudly support Jaza’s mission for a more inclusive future, alongside partners like Canada’s Active Impact Investments. This initiative exemplifies our dedication to innovative, sustainable solutions, aligning with the Cisco Foundation’s vision of sustainable community development.

Climate Investments for a Sustainable, Inclusive Future

The Cisco Foundation is a distinct legal entity established in 1997 by a gift from Cisco. But the Foundation’s work reflects Cisco’s strength as a tech leader; its purpose to Power an Inclusive for All; and its strategic environmental sustainability priorities to accelerate clean energy adoption, transition to a circular model, and invest in resilient ecosystems. By supporting climate ventures like SHYFT Power and Jaza Energy and pre-seed innovation platforms like The Catalyst Fund, the Cisco Foundation invests in a vision of a regenerative future where connectivity, advanced technologies and sustainability coalesce to power inclusive growth in Africa​​. Our climate investments through the Cisco Foundation reflect our vision for an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future for Africa, and they embody our belief in a world where technology can drive sustainability, fostering an inclusive future for all.


Elias Habbar-Baylac

Climate Investor

Chief Sustainability Office