East Africa's first utility-scale solar field to officially open

Source:Gigawatt Global

East Africa's first utility-scale solar power field officially open - A win for the White House electrification initiative in Africa increases Rwanda's electric generation capacity by six percent

Rwanda's Minister of Infrastructure, James Musoni, and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), John Morton, will lead the ribbon-cutting on Thursday, February 5, at 12:30pm of the 8.5 Megawatt solar field at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, and will be joined by international representatives of the partners that developed the landmark $23.7 million project.

The Rwanda field brought together an international consortium of financing partners. Debt was provided by FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Company) and the London-based EAIF (Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund); mezzanine debt provided by Norfund (The Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries); equity from Scatec Solar ASA (who also served as EPC contractor and serves as O&M provider), Norfund and KLP Norfund Investments (a vehicle jointly owned by KLP, the largest pension fund in Norway, and Norfund). Grants were received from the United States Government via OPIC's ACEF (Africa Clean Energy Finance) grant and from Finland's EEP (Energy and Environment Partnership). Norton Rose Fulbright from London served as international legal counsel.

"Top quality developers like Gigawatt Global are the keys to success for President Obama's Power Africa Initiative (OPIC)," 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 stated, "Our project proves the viability of financing and building large-scale solar fields in sub-Saharan Africa, and that this initiative serves as a catalyst for many more sustainable energy projects in the region."  He continued, "Throughout the process, we had the full cooperation of the Rwandan government and its agencies, and we are looking forward to bringing additional sustainable energy solutions to more African and developing countries."

The Rwandan project is built on land owned by the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, whose mission is to care for Rwanda's most vulnerable children orphaned before and after the Rwandan genocide. The village is leasing 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 people of Rwanda should be proud to host the first utility-scale solar power plant in East Africa, and we hope that the pioneering spirit of Rwandan authorities may serve as an inspiration to other countries in the region. The ASYV project will be an important source of clean and reliable electricity for the next 20 years and beyond, and we are proud of having made this possible in cooperation with our partners Gigawatt and Norfund," said Torstein Berntsen, Executive Vice President of Scatec Solar ASA.

Gigawatt Global's 8.5 MW solar field in Rwanda is the first Power Africa project of its size to reach completion since the launch of the Initiative by President Obama in July 2013.

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