Backing Kenya’s Solar Potential
6th Mar 2019
Nairobi, Kenya: InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed convertible loan agreements with frontier developer Gigawatt Global; committing a total of US$2.2m to the development of the Samburu Solar and Transmara Solar projects, respectively. Each with a capacity of 10 MWAC, the sister facilities will generate clean, reliable electricity in some of the poorest counties in Kenya. The financing committed by InfraCo Africa will enable these projects to complete development activities and secure the financing needed for construction. Both projects will be developed in partnership with Gigawatt Global, building from their experience in Rwanda.
“Gigawatt Global’s pioneering mission in Kenya to target last-mile generation development is bolstered by its partnership with InfraCo Africa,” says Josef Abramowitz, CEO of Gigawatt Global. “Through the Samburu and Transmara projects, this alliance will demonstrate how solar can act as an essential cornerstone to empower rural and under-served populations.”
In 2018, the Government of Kenya reaffirmed its intention to achieve Universal Electricity Access by 2022 and to continue developing the power sector: including the strategic use of on-grid, off-grid and small-scale solutions. The Samburu and Transmara projects will directly contribute to achieving this goal. To date, private sector investment in Kenyan solar has focused on either large-scale plants or local mini-grids/solar systems. The Samburu and Transmara projects will demonstrate the commercial viability of strategically sited small-scale solar plants (10MWAC and below) and so mobilise greater private sector participation in this market segment.
Work is also underway to explore the potential for one or both of the solar projects to take part in a local currency power purchase agreement (PPA) pilot. If confirmed, the solar project(s) would be amongst the first in sub-Saharan Africa to have negotiated local currency renewable energy PPAs outside of South Africa.
“Recognising the challenges faced by the Kenyan power sector, we are excited to be pioneering 10MW solar IPPs and demonstrating the benefits of strategically locating small-scale generation whilst facilitating economic development within poor and under-served counties.” says Alix Graham, Business Development Manager, InfraCo Africa.
Over the last three years, InfraCo Africa has focused on building a strong solar pipeline and now has seven solar projects under development, another under construction and a portfolio of three operational mini-grid businesses. These projects span nine countries and will collectively deliver >250MW of solar power, both on and off-grid. By replicating lessons learned across its solar portfolio and leveraging established partnerships like that with JCM Capital in Malawi, and now Gigawatt Global in Kenya, InfraCo Africa is able to derive greater value and impact from the funding it commits.
“Working together with InfraCo Africa enables Gigawatt Global to bring innovative financing and impactful development to some of the poorer communities in Kenya,” said Eran Blumberg, Gigawatt’s country Managing Director.