Access Infra Africa (AIA), developer, owner and operator of power assets in Africa, has launched the Access Co-Development Fund (ACF), a US$5 million competition designed to bridge the gap between early stage renewable energy projects in Africa and the expertise and funding they require to come to operation.
Renewable project screening
Open to entries between 1 April and 20 May, the ACF will short list up to five projects from those submitted for a final round of screening by a panel of experts to take place on 11 June 2015 during the 2015 Africa Energy Forum (AEF) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
AIA will look at a range of projects including wind, solar and hydro projects. In addition, it will also look at potential hybrid projects (a combination of conventional and non-conventional). The average size of solar power projects will be 10–50 MW.
The winning project or projects from the AEF final round will enter into a Joint Development Agreement with Access. Under this agreement, Access will take an equity stake in the successful projects and fund third party development costs related to them, such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and other due diligence fees. The successful projects will also be able to draw upon Access’ expertise for technical support, financial structuring and development process management.
Attracting early stage funding for renewable projects
Reda El Chaar, chairman of Access Power MEA, said: “ACF is a unique platform bringing together the funding and expertise renewable energy project originators and developers across Africa need to succeed. The inaugural ACF will be an exciting feature of this year’s Africa Energy Forum and we are confident that the ACF will develop in subsequent years into a platform that attracts early stage funding from development financing institutions, international financing institutions and various donor organizations.”
According to El Chaar, Africa currently lacks a pipeline of high-quality projects. He says that in partnership with project developer and investor EREN, there are plans to develop a range of high quality concepts into bankable projects, thereby playing a leading role in bringing energy security to the millions of people in Africa
ACF forms part of Access Infra Africa’s plans to invest US$500 million in developing renewable energy projects in Africa over the next three years. The company is expected to initiate this investment from Egypt, which recently conducted an auction of solar and wind energy projects.
The number of power projects and investments across Africa is on the increase-the hallmark of which was at the 2014 Power Africa summit where political and business leaders of the continent gathered in Washington with their counterparts in the US to strike business deals geared towards overcoming Africa’s power challenge. But, El Chaar believes that while Africa’s energy sector and the wider economy could be transformed by the billions of dollars of financing available, investments cannot have an impact without well-resourced and experienced developers willing to take early-stage project risk and turn good concepts into bankable projects.