Gigawatt Global has officially launched its $23.7 million solar energy plant in the East African country of Rwanda, which the company financed, constructed and interconnected 12 months after the official signing of the Power Purchase Agreement. The facility was opened on February 5th with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event led by led by Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. James Musoni, and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), John Morton. International representatives of the partners that developed the landmark project were also in attendance.
The 8.5 MW solar farm is located at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a residential community and farm which aims to provide care for Rwanda’s most vulnerable children orphaned before and after the Rwandan genocide. The village has leased the land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village's charitable expenses. Gigawatt Global will also be providing training on solar power to students of the Liquidnet High School on the grounds of the Youth Village.
The solar farm was constructed in the shape of the African continent and was supported by a consortium of international financing partners including FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Company), the London-based EAIF (Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund), Norfund (the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries), Scatec Solar ASA (who also served as EPC contractor and serves as O&M provider) and KLP Norfund Investments (a vehicle jointly owned by KLP, the largest pension fund in Norway, and Norfund).
The US Government provided grants for the project via OPIC’s ACEF (Africa Clean Energy Finance) along with the EEP (Energy and Environment Partnership) Programme, a partnership of the British, Norwegian and Austrian governments. SEDI Labs served as a key project development partner and Norton Rose Fulbright from London served as the international legal counsel. The solar farm is the first utility-scale project in Rwanda to reach financial close and come online under the ACEF programme which is an integral part of President Barak Obama’s Power Africa Initiative.
“Top quality developers like Gigawatt Global are the keys to success for President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative” said Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of OPIC. “After OPIC provided critical early-stage support through the ACEF program, Gigawatt smoothly and swiftly brought the project online to give Rwanda enough grid-connected power to supply 15,000 homes. Gigawatt Global in Rwanda is a clear demonstration that solar will be a key part of Africa’s energy solution.”
Chaim Motzen, Gigawatt Global Co-Founder and Managing Director, and the main force behind the development of the project, added the project could serve as a catalyst for many more sustainable energy projects in the region
Gigawatt Global is an American-owned Dutch company operating as an impact investment platform and frontier solar developer. It focuses on the development, financing, construction and activation of commercial-scale solar energy fields in emerging markets and is currently targeting 1,000 MW of solar power in Africa by 2020. The company is one of almost 90 private sector partners involved in the US Government’s Power Africa Initiative, which is designed to increase access to electricity throughout all of sub-Saharan Africa. By providing creative financing, business development support and commercial advocacy through various US Government agencies, Power Africa represents a new model of development which facilitates the work of its partner companies in developing new energy sources, including wind, solar, hydropower, natural gas, and geothermal resources in all of sub-Saharan Africa.
The Power Africa Initiative was launched on June 30th 2013 by President Obama and brings together the combined expertise and resources of 12 US Government agencies, with African governments, the private sector, multilateral and bilateral partners to increase energy access, remove barriers to energy development and to promote and improve governance of a growing power sector throughout all of sub-Saharan Africa. It has set the ambitious goal of adding 30,000 megawatts of new, cleaner electricity generation capacity and increasing electricity access by at least 60 million new household and business connections across all of sub-Saharan Africa. To date, it has mobilised more than $20 billion in commitments from 90 private sector partners, and an additional $9 billion through strategic partnerships forged with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Government of Sweden.
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