FRES at a glance

Foundation Rural Energy Services (FRES) is a Dutch not-for-profit that advances electrification in rural Africa by establishing commercial electricity companies under local management. FRES is a pioneer in solar energy, with a 20-year track record of installing and servicing solar energy installations in rural Africa. From a single company South Africa in 1999 that recently became self-reliant, we have replicated and further developed our model in Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Guiné-Bissau. Building on this success, we are currently gearing up to add new countries to our network. We are looking for partners and donors to support and accelerate our work.

Find reports and documentation below icon-arrow

Our vision

Rural electrification that leaves no one behind. We envision universal clean energy access as an enabler for all other social and development goals and key to achieving these goals sustainably.

Our mission

Our mission is to advance electrification in rural Africa. We do this by establishing small-scale commercial electricity companies under local management in areas that have no access to a national or regional electricity grid and that are insufficiently served by commercial solar energy providers.

Accelerating rural electrification

With ten years left to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2020s have been called the decade of delivery. As a key driver of sustainable development, access to clean, renewable energy is crucial for realizing not only the SDGs but also the core promise of the 2030 agenda to leave no one behind.

At the current pace of electrification, however, half a billion people – primarily living in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel – will still be unserved in 2030. The urgency of the challenge and the need to obtain long-term results that truly fulfil the promise of leaving no one behind, means we must step up our efforts.

As a pioneer in bringing off-grid solar energy solutions to rural Africa, FRES proves it can be done. Even in the most challenging areas that are at greatest risk of being left behind, FRES has become a trusted supplier of solar energy to businesses, communities and households.

Central to our success is our belief in local entrepreneurship. FRES establishes commercial electricity companies under local management that gradually extend their reach from village to village and district to district. Our aim is for our companies to become financially sustainable in the long term. Expenses are kept to a minimum, and any profits our

companies generate are reinvested locally to support relevant expansion and finance future asset replacements without subsidies. This proven growth strategy and our ‘boots on the ground’ approach set us apart and allow us to combine affordable premium technology with ongoing professional maintenance.

From a single company in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in 1999 that recently became self-reliant, we have replicated and further developed our model in Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Guiné-Bissau. Building on this 20-year track record, we are currently gearing up to add new countries to our network. We are looking for partners and donors to support and accelerate our work.

What we do

With solar home systems (SHS), nano and mini grids and productive use platforms in our portfolio, we can meet all the energy needs of individual households, communities and businesses in off-grid rural areas.

Solar home systems

SHS customers can choose between several pre-set service levels depending on their individual energy needs. Installing multiple SHS can meet the energy needs of small businesses, such as bars or shops, as well as clinics, religious centers and schools.

Micro and nano grids

Micro and nano grids provide a standalone energy solution that is more efficient than a single home system without requiring the capital-intensive infrastructure of a mini grid. The 220 volts provide power to small networks of up to eight connections for private and business use.

Mini grids

A mini grid is a small electricity network that can connect domestic, commercial and community customers within a radius of a few kilometers with a solar power plant. This is composed of a field of solar panels, a large set of batteries and a backup generator.

Multifunctional platforms

FRES can build multifunctional platforms that provide a tailored energy supply for a whole regional ecosystem of businesses and households. With partners, this can be combined with productive use offerings such as solar-powered water pumps, irrigation, processing equipment and cold storage.

Solar water pumping

A solar water pumping system is powered by solar panels and can be used for commercial purposes such as irrigation of agricultural land. By using energy from the sun, the system eliminates manual labor and the need to burn fossil fuels.


FRES sees energy as a service. Our companies provide electricity on the basis of a fee-for-service model. Customers pay a monthly fee using mobile payment and can upgrade systems when needed.

FRES companies install and retain ownership of these systems, taking care of all after-sales maintenance and replacement investments. This ensures long-term, sustained use of the assets. FRES is also responsible for collecting and recycling old systems, reducing waste and promoting circularity.

This model makes premium technology affordable to our customers and beneficiaries. To ensure our service levels remain high, we are currently upgrading the solar systems of our current customer base and converting to next-generation batteries with faster charging speeds and greater durability.

Local roots, global connections

FRES advances electrification in rural areas of Africa by setting up commercial electricity companies under local management.

We target remote and sometimes challenging areas that are at greatest risk of being left behind. We have operations in Burkina Faso, Guiné-Bissau, Mali and Uganda. We aim to replicate our model in at least two new countries in the coming five years.

FRES’ small head office in Amsterdam, The Netherlands oversees and supports the activities of local companies in Africa. It provides the expertise and investments needed for companies to start up, grow and, most importantly, become self-reliant. The head office is also responsible for the international procurement of hardware, maintaining relationships with donors, partners and suppliers and planning for expansion in new countries.

Trained local field staff

Every day, our technicians and service agents are out in the field providing customer service and maintaining our regional networks of solar energy installations.

Households and businesses in remote villages are reached through a gradually expanding network of energy stores and mobile service agents. Continual maintenance of panels, batteries, wiring and lighting comes with the job at a FRES company.

Keeping customers satisfied with a secure supply of affordable electricity is the basic rule of any utility. It’s what pays our bills and ensures we can keep the solar systems running, including in the long term.

Annual reports and governance documentation

Governance documents

FRES’ governance processes are guided by our policy documents, which have been approved by the FRES board.

Annual reports

The annual reports provide a consolidated overview of FRES’ financial results and a governance report by the board

Company Reports

The company reports provide an annual overview of activities and progress for local partners and stakeholders