A Rwandan power project has been announced among the three winners of this year’s Access Co-Development Facility (ACF), an innovative funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa.
According to a press release from the organisers, Access Power, a developer, owner and operator of renewable power projects in emerging markets, and EREN Renewable Energy, a global independent power producer, the three winners will share $7 million (about Rwf5.9 billion) cash prize.
The 2017 winning projects are Tanzania’s 30MW Kondoa Solar PV project, 9.7MW Rukarara hydro plant in Rwanda, and Ghana’s 48MW Winneba Wind project.
When completed, the projects will collectively provide over 85MW of electricity, enough to power more than 420,000 homes and business across Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana, the organisers said while announcing the winners in Copenhagen, Denmark during the 19th annual Africa Energy Forum.
They were selected following a presentation by the five shortlisted developers to a panel of expert judges, and they beat a technologically and geographically diverse pool of 82 entrants from 23 countries after having presented to a high level live panel of industry expert judges.
How they won
The panel based their final selection on the commercial, technical and environmental merits of the projects presented, as well as the local regulatory environment and capability of the project teams, according to the statement.
Besides the $7 million cash prize provided by the Access Co-Development Facility, the winners will also receive technical support and expertise, Reda El Chaar, the executive chairman of Access Power said in the statement.
“We are very excited to begin working with this year’s winners in partnership with EREN to help bring their projects to fruition. Each of these projects has the power to dramatically improve the lives of the communities around these renewable energy facilities,” El Chaar added.
“By partnering with us, these local entrepreneurs will gain access to not only our pot of $7 million but also our network of contacts and technical experts, underlining the unique nature of the ACF in creating a clear route to market.”
The winning projects will now enter into Joint Development Agreements with Access Power, who will take an equity stake.
The winners will also be able to leverage Access Power’s organisational, financial and technical knowledge, as well as access to its network. “They will also receive assistance with the funding of third-party development costs, including feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees,” the Access chief executive said.
Competition dominated by solar initiatives
This year’s competition was notable for the dominance of solar, with just under half of this year’s entries and three of the five shortlisted projects falling under the category, but also for the high number of applications from countries with low levels of electrification. Of the 23 countries represented in this year’s edition, 18 have electrification rates below 30 per cent. This year’s application process also further highlighted the rise of East and West Africa as hotspots for renewable energy development, with nearly 80 per cent of all applicants hailing from both sides of the continent.
Rwanda targets to generate 563MW and connect 70 per cent of households to electricity by 2018. Of these, 48 per cent will be connected to the national grid and 22 per cent on off-grid systems. Presently, 30.9 per cent of Rwandan households have access to electricity, of which 27.9 per cent are connected to on-grid energy.