US$5m Competition Helps Africa Harness its Renewable Potential

Access Infra Africa has announced two winners of the inaugural Access Co-Development Fund.
Published: Thu 25 Jun 2015

Nigeria-based Quaint Solar Energy and Cameroon’s Flatbush Solar have been chosen by Access Infra Africa as the winners of the inaugural Access Co-Development Fund (ACF). [Engerati-Access Infra Africa Launches Fund For Africa’s Early Stage Renewable Energy Projects].

Bridging Africa’s power deficit

The fund, a US$5 million competition launched in April 2015 by Access Infra Africa (Access), aims to bridge the gap between early-stage African renewable energy projects and the expertise and funding they need to become operational. Access is a developer, owner and operator of power assets in Africa. Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe with a specific focus on the MEA region. Access Infra Africa is actively seeking the development of a portfolio of renewable energy projects in 15 African countries with the target of establishing a portfolio of US$500 million in renewable energy assets. The company is technology agnostic and its focus is on the development of affordable and sustainable power assets.

Quaint Solar Energy’s winning ABIBA Solar Project is a 50MW solar development that will utilize photovoltaic technology. The project aims to add to Nigeria’s current power output and help to bridge the power deficit faced by the nation. Seun Solesi, director at Quaint Solar Energy, said that the funding, technical support and guidance will undoubtedly play a key role in bringing the project to fruition and creating significant benefit for all stakeholders.

The winning Maroua Solar Project by Flatbush Solar in Cameroon is a 20MW solar fixed ground mount photovoltaic plant, designed to serve the energy needs of the city of Maroua and neighbouring towns and villages. Samuel Tesfaye, managing director of Flatbush Solar, said that they are pleased that Access Infra Africa recognizes the importance of providing funding and technical expertise to early-stage renewable projects in Africa.

Other shortlisted projects include a 20MW photovoltaic plant by Ada Solar Energy in Ghana and a 10MW solar plant by Wagonanze Investments in Tanzania.

The winning projects were selected by an expert panel at a live session at the Africa Energy Forum 2015, based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and the project team.

Reda El Chaar, Chairman of Access Power MEA, said that it was a fantastic opportunity to be able to partner with two projects that will have a positive social and economic impact in their respective regions. He added that Access looks forward to working closely with the project teams as they progress towards becoming operational.

Flatbush Solar and Quaint Solar Energy will enter into a Joint Development Agreement with Access. Under this agreement, Access will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and other due diligence fees. Access will also back Flatbush Solar and Quaint Solar Energy with technical support, financial structure and development process management.

Competition-a reflection of renewables potential in Africa

According to El Chaar, the ACF was extremely successful in its first year, receiving over 55 submissions in less than two months. He describes this as a remarkable feat which in many ways reflects the potential of renewable energy across Africa. He added that the competition is expected to gain even more momentum in the coming years.

The submissions came from project originators in 18 countries across Africa, including Cape Verde, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania. They covered a range of renewable energy technologies including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and biomass.

This kind of investment could be a win-win for both the local developers and Access and we foresee other global developers getting involved in the same way to snap up Africa’s largely untapped potential. Local business partners are certainly the key to African investment since foreign companies like Access will quickly grasp the local trading rules and incentives which can make for more efficient development in the energy sector. [Engerati-Local Business Partners Are Key to African Investment.]