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Subjects: RCY, CSR

International Community Boosts Burundi Energy

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, Jan. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Work begins this week to develop a 7.5 MW solar field in Burundi by frontier renewable energy developer Gigawatt Global, a Dutch company with American investors and a founding partner of the U.S. Power Africa initiative.

Patrick Nzitunga, Gigawatt Global project director in Burundi, near Mubuga, the site of Gigawatt Global's 7.5 MW solar field now under construction, with members of the Gigawatt and Voltalia teams, on January 27, 2020. (PRNewsfoto/Gigawatt Global)

"It takes a global village to bring utility-scale green energy to where it is needed most in Africa," says Yosef Abramowitz, CEO of Gigawatt Global, and named by CNN as one of the world's six leading 'Green Pioneers'.  "Following the lack-luster United Nations climate conference, we are demonstrating to the world that it is possible to create and scale a business model to achieve, especially in frontier markets, many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

Gigawatt Global and its partners selected Voltalia, the French engineering, procurement and construction company, to build the solar field, which is located on the soft rolling hills on the outskirts of Mubuga village on 11.5 hecters of privately-owned land.   The field will be using 25,140 Suntech panels and 56 Kaco string inverters and is expected to be interconnected well before the United Nations COP 26, which will be hosted by the UK.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)?previously the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)?is supporting the project with political risk insurance and senior debt. The project is also supported by EEP, Get.Invest, and by the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) to cover relevant studies.

"Bringing clean energy to one of the world's least developed countries fulfills Gigawatt Global's mission to be a premier impact platform of choice for renewables in Africa," says Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi SA and the VP of finance and business development for Gigawatt Global Cooperatief.  "We accomplished this pioneering project together with supporters from across the entire development spectrum, including innovative financial products being deployed for the first time with this project.  We believe this demonstrates how solar power can be implemented in other developing markets, while decreasing dependency on costly and polluting diesel generators."

"We are extremely pleased to be working with Inspired Evolution, UK's Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and USAID's Power Africa, and our partners in the government of Burundi, in particular the Ministry of Energy," Fichtenberg added.  "We are especially proud to be the first to implement the innovative Regional Liquidity Support Facility (RLSF) by African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), and to enable further projects to be realized across the continent."

Caecilia Wijgers, Dutch ambassador to Burundi, said: "In our partnership with Burundi, the private sector perspective is key to contribute to sustainable development. I am therefore very pleased that Gigawatt Global can start construction work for the solar power plant project in Mubuga, Gitega. It is commendable that this investment was done on a private and commercial basis."  FMO, the Dutch development bank, is also a partner in the financing, as one of the backers of Inspired Evolution.

James Eedes, Head of Project Finance who led the investment on behalf of the Evolution II Fund, managed by Inspired Evolution Investment Management, added, "This is a pioneering project in many ways, both to open up the Independent Power Production market in Burundi and to crowd-in funders and credit enhancement providers to realise a complex but important project for the country."

The project will fill the power needs of more than 87,000 people and businesses, will provide 300 temporary jobs during construction, and will support up to 50 permanent jobs during the 25-year operational phase.

Gigawatt Global, which inaugurated sub-Sahara Africa's first utility-scale solar field in 2014 in Rwanda with a high-profile visit of U2's Bono, kicks off in Burundi a 10-country African solar and wind pipeline for the decade. The Company is investing in very high-impact green energy projects, with a pipeline of 350 MW, and is currently pursuing a Series A institutional investment round to expand its reach. Gigawatt Global's Burundi project, located 10 kilometers from Gitega city, is the largest private sector investment in Burundi's energy sector in 30 years, and will be the first permanent power station built in that time.

Geoff Sinclair, Managing Director of Camco Clean Energy, which manages UK's REPP, said: "Today's announcement is a landmark moment for Burundi's energy sector - once built the solar plant will add nearly 15% to the generation capacity of its grid using clean energy. It's also an important milestone for REPP, as this project is the first in its portfolio to begin construction, having received funding support from REPP throughout its development and financial close process."

John Lentaigne, CEO of ATI, said: "ATI has a strong institutional focus on supporting our member countries transition to the green economy. Thanks to the support of the German government and KfW, the RLSF is one of a number of insurance solutions that we are using to help address climate change in Africa. The RLSF enables countries that have signed onto it to attract quality independent power producers, who are in turn able to efficiently implement renewable energy projects in their countries. This solar-project in Burundi is the first of what we expect to be many more green projects in our countries that will benefit from ATI's de-risking solutions."

"Achieving financial close Burundi's first grid-connected solar independent power project is a huge milestone for the country and for all parties involved," said Kaushik Ray, a partner in Trinity International, a leading law firm.  "Trinity is proud to have helped all its clients at various stages navigate through complex structuring to deliver a pathfinder project." Trinity International advised the Gigawatt Global and Inspired Evolution equity teams since 2017, as well as ATI. 

Gigawatt Global's Abramowitz added: "We are proud to kick-off the UN's Decade of Action toward fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals with this landmark solar investment.  We have operations in 10 African countries and look forward to expanding our partnerships so that we can bring power to the people of Africa."

Notes to editors

Abramowitz will be in Kigali and at the Rwanda solar field Monday and Tuesday February 2-3, and can be available for interviews with a solar tour.

Video links:

The local village warmly receiving a delegation from Gigawatt Global to the land where construction is about to begin on the 7.5 MW solar field: https://youtu.be/ZEBsXm5B0S8.

Video from sponsorship of football match and distribution of hand-held solar chargers, featuring Michael Fichtenberg, Patrick Nzitunga and the Honorable Jean Jacques NYENIMIGABO, MP of Mubuga zone: https://youtu.be/HVn-MyQmn1Y.

About Gigawatt Global

Gigawatt Global Coöperatief U.A. is a multinational renewable energy company and impact investment platform focused on the development of profitable utility-scale installations, actively implementing solutions to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals across Africa. Led by a team of seasoned project developers, financiers, impact investors and green energy experts, the American-owned Dutch company is a founding partner of the U.S. Power Africa program, and has solar, wind and hydro projects under development in 10 African countries.


About REPP

The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) works to mobilise private sector development activity ? and investment ? in small to medium-sized projects (typically up to 25MW). It is supported with £148m funding from the UK's International Climate Finance through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and to date, has agreed contracts with 24 renewable energy projects across 13 countries, employing six different technologies, from SHS and PV mini-grids to biomass and run-of-river hydro.  www.repp.energy

About Inspired Evolution and Evolution II Fund

Inspired Evolution, investment advisor to Evolution I and Evolution II Funds, is a specialised clean energy infrastructure and resource efficiency investment advisory platform with offices in Cape Town, London, Nairobi, Abidjan and Mauritius. Inspired Evolution has been involved in developing and financing more than 1,000 MW of renewable energy infrastructure generation projects across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Evolution II Fund's current investors include the Dutch Development Bank FMO, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund ("GEEREF"), the European Investment Bank, UK development finance institution CDC Group, Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets ("SIFEM") managed by Obviam, African Development Bank ("AfDB"), the Swedish development finance institution Swedfund and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation ("Finnfund").  www.inspiredevolution.co.za

About DFC

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is America's development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology projects. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.  https://www.dfc.gov/

About Camco Clean Energy

Camco Clean Energy is a global leader in sustainable energy projects finance. Its long-established position within Africa's renewable energy sector enables the company to provide project developers and sponsors with a trusted combination of global access and local presence, enabling them to source the right financing solutions to develop and build projects.

Since formation, it has provided creative finance solutions to 180 projects worth US$15bn, and in geographies as diverse as Madagascar to Malaysia and the US to Uganda. www.camco.energy

About Trinity International

Trinity International is a boutique law firm with a unique focus on projects, finance, corporate and commercial transactions in emerging markets.  Trinity's award-winning, senior-led team boasts vast experience in the power and renewables, resources, infrastructure, industrial and agricultural sectors, with a notable reputation on pathfinder power projects on the African continent. With offices in London, Paris and Washington, D.C., Trinity is a niche firm with a global vision. Trinity's approach is innovative and its ambition is to use thought leadership to deliver successful transactions in challenging markets. 

About The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)

ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. As of YE 2018, ATI has supported USD46 billion in trade and investments across Africa in sectors such as agribusiness, energy, exports, housing, infrastructure manufacturing, mining and telecommunications. For over a decade, ATI has maintained an 'A/Stable' rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor's, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody's.  www.ati-aca.org


The women's cooperative of the nearby village of Mubuga will benefit from productive uses of solar power as part of a social and economic development program.  Dr. Hanna Klein (center), VP of Research and Project Development of Gigawatt Global, holds a PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science in solar energy and is planning to switch the village flour mills from diesel to solar-powered electric motors. (PRNewsfoto/Gigawatt Global)

SOURCE Gigawatt Global

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