Multi-country: SunCulture

Growing access to solar-powered irrigation technology


Across Africa, an estimated seven hundred million people live on smallholder farms without adequate access to water. As the effects of climate change become more extreme and temperatures rise across the continent, reliance on rainfed agriculture has led to crop losses, famine, and displacement of families from areas impacted by increasingly frequent droughts and flooding. 240 million African people currently experience daily hunger, and, without action, this figure is expected to rise by 95% by 2050. Irrigation offers part of the solution, enabling farmers to guarantee adequate water for their crops year-round, and yet just 4% of sub-Saharan Africa’s cultivated land is currently irrigated, with irrigation largely concentrated in more developed African countries and with commercial large-scale farmers.


Under construction
US$ 12 million
2024 -

The subsidiaries of Savant Group Ltd. across sub-Saharan Africa, collectively known as SunCulture, developed an Internet-of-Things (IoT) enabled solar-powered irrigation system for use by smallholders farming approximately 1-3 acres of land. SunCulture designs, manufactures, finances, installs, and maintains its irrigation systems, and farmers pay for the systems through a Pay-As-You-Grow financing arrangement. The majority of sub-Saharan smallholder farmers currently rely on rainfall to water their crops or use expensive, polluting diesel irrigation pumps. The ‘total cost of ownership’ for a SunCulture pump is 40-60% lower than the cost of a diesel pump, depending on payment plans. The systems are remotely monitored and include predictive maintenance with the company’s Maarifa software supporting farmers to maximise their yields through sharing data they can use to inform their planting patterns.

The compact, modular systems are equipped with battery storage to enable farmers to water their crops at any time of day – minimising evaporation – and also have drip irrigation systems to target water where it is most needed. Farmers can also use the systems to charge small devices such as mobile phones. Using a solar-powered irrigation pump is expected to displace approximately 3MT of CO2 equivalent emissions per pump, per year over the life of the product.  They also incorporate safe, low-voltage DC pumps to mitigate the risks of combining water and electricity.

In a further effort to improve the affordability of its pumps for smallholder farmers, SunCulture leverages consumer financing and carbon revenues and is the first African solar water pump provider to receive VERRA certification.

The SunCulture investment closely aligns with the strategic priorities of PIDG and InfraCo Africa by scaling access to affordable, solar-powered irrigation systems which are designed to improve yields and farmers’ incomes, promoting economic development whilst driving down CO2 emissions.

With support from InfraCo Africa and other investors in SunCulture’s US$27.5m Series B fundraise, the company will expand into new jurisdictions, scaling its offering to provide access to solar-powered irrigation systems for hundreds of thousands of farmers by 2030. It is anticipated that the company will be well-positioned to expand further by reinvesting its profits and attracting further private-sector finance.

EKTA Partners acted as the exclusive financial advisor for this transaction, building on the team’s track record in raising capital for tech companies driving positive change globally.