2023 In Brief

by Charlie Tyron, Maris CEO

2023 has been another challenging year for markets across Africa. But the continent has shown characteristic resilience and I’m pleased to say there is news in this Christmas letter that I hope will raise festive spirits a little. First, let’s get the doom and gloom out of the way with a quick recap of what the world faced in 2023.

Beyond African shores, the war in Ukraine ground on and new fighting started in the Middle East. US-China relations limped on ahead of a year where there will be elections in both Taiwan and America. Democracy seems to be in retreat worldwide  

Here in Africa, Sudan – the continent’s third largest country- plunged into civil war destabilising an already fragile region. People took to the streets in Gabon, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali….but stayed at home during parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, the credibility of national elections in Zimbabwe was widely questioned. 

Economically, Africa has faced challenges on multiple fronts: high interest rates triggered by central banks’ battle against inflation pushed up the cost of debt and although FDI to Africa rebounded in the first half of the year it remains well below 2022 levels. Never underestimate this continent’s resilience though….Africa was written off during the pandemic and bounced back without vast economic stimulus. 

But perhaps the worst news of all doesn’t come from the political or economic climates, but the actual climate itself. Global temperatures reached record highs in 2023, causing forest fires, flooding and drought that make climate change a desperate reality rather than a future threat. 

So when I look back at what we’ve achieved at Maris in 2023 perhaps there is some good news to be had. Across our divisions we’ve grown businesses that are having a positive impact on the climate, demonstrating that we can deliver the green transition and financial returns. We added 1000 new jobs at Agris, planted half a million trees at ETC and Karebe surpassed 1 tonne of gold production since we re-opened the mine. 

We also provided some much-wanted liquidity to shareholders during the year following the very successful partial exit of Equator Energy. It is the first step in a journey to create more liquidity for shareholders over the coming years.


Equator Energy  – East Africa’s largest C&I solar provider – sold a majority stake to IBL Energy Holdings Ltd – a fully owned subsidiary of the Mauritian conglomerate, IBL Group, and STOA, an energy and infrastructure impact fund created by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD). This was quickly followed by a USD30 million long-term debt investment by the Facility for Energy Inclusion (“FEI”), managed by Cygnum Capital (formerly Lion’s Head Group), which provides Equator Energy with the financing and flexibility to scale its portfolio.

Equator Mobility has continued to expand. Since 2021 we’ve pioneered electric commercial vehicle use in Kenya with an innovative leasing model, which addresses the high costs associated with electric vehicle ownership. This not only reduces emissions but also promotes green transportation in Nairobi, one of Africa’s most polluted cities. 

We have exciting plans for next year as we venture into small-scale run-of-river hydroelectricity and expand our fleet of electric vehicles at Equator Mobility to bring down the cost of environmentally friendly last-mile distribution. 

Agriculture, Food and Forestry

Our agriculture and forestry division is growing at a breathless pace, reflecting East Africa’s massive potential to service the growing global demand for high-quality, sustainably produced food. Our growth has created more than 1000 new jobs this year alone in Kenya, where the workforce is set to double in the coming decades. Evergreen Herbs has gone from the third to first largest fresh herb producer in East Africa and we’ve entered a joint venture with Granot, one of the world’s leading avocado producers, to develop a 400-hectare avocado plantation and research hub at our flagship Ndabibi farm in Kenya.

This partnership combines Granot’s expertise as one of the world’s biggest avocado producers with Agris’ local knowledge, deep operational experience and portfolio of agricultural and forestry businesses across East Africa. AgDevCo’s mezzanine loan investment in the project is flexibly structured to support new avocado orchards, which take four to five years to reach maturity. This demonstrates the creative, patient investment which the world needs more to support regenerative agriculture and the development of expertise in Africa


META was challenged by falling local currencies and the critical availability of hard currency. This said we have seen growth across our dealerships in the eight countries where we operate (Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, DRC, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya).

This is part of a post-Covid recovery but is also supported by continued infrastructure development and urbanisation in these markets and a relatively strong commodities sector.

We’ve increased our machinery catalogue with affordable, new-world offerings and are delighted to have become an East Africa distributor for Fuchs lubricants. 


At Mopani, our mining division, we are delighted to have appointed Marc Nicolle as CEO to realise the full potential of our high-grade assets in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Marc’s experience leading new mine developments and operational turnarounds at mines across Zimbabwe aligns with the company’s expansion goals. 

Mopani has had a good year in 2023 and looks set to build on this in 2024.


ALP now boast 90% occupancy across its two Nairobi sites, as demand for state-of-the-art warehousing increases.

One of ALP’s latest tenants is ebee, a company dedicated to revolutionising urban transportation, offering electric bicycles for sale, lease, and service to individuals and businesses.

We are proud to be supporting the growth of their business. 

It remains for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and let us hope that more sense and stability prevail in 2024. 

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