Burundi’s solar capacity to double
Burundi’s solar capacity to double, announces President Ndayishimiye at ribbon cutting for first solar field
7.5 MW field result of multinational effort already provides more than 10% of nation’s electric generation capacity; more to be developed
Gitega/Mubuga, Burundi – 9 May 2023: President Ndayishimiye of Burundi today visited Gigawatt Global’s solar power plant in Mubuga, Burundi, near the capital Gitega, the nation’s first utility-scale solar field.
The high-profile celebratory event was attended in-person and remotely by dozens of foreign diplomats including the ambassadors of the United States, Holland and others, as well as representatives of the project partners and local dignitaries. During the visit, President Ndayishimiye and Gigawatt Global CEO Yosef Abramowitz announced their intention to double the generating capacity near the currently operating plant. [ A recording of the Zoom livestream of the event can be seen at this link, using passcode y00UMiA! ]
President Ndayishimiye said at the ceremony: “Today we celebrate economic and climate progress in Burundi, which is open to direct foreign investment to catalyze economic growth for our people. We invite the international community to follow the lead of our partners at Gigawatt Global, Inspired Evolution, REPP and DFC and develop projects, especially in the agricultural sector. We have excellent soil for tea and coffee and an industrious population. And thanks to this solar field, and my agreement to double the size of it, we have increased energy security that can reliably run agro-businesses.”
Built through a multinational effort, the pioneering 7.5 MW solar PV plant near the village of Mubuga has been in operation since May 2021 and now provides over 10% of Burundi’s electricity, supplying clean power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses. (See video from the field.)
The plant supports international efforts to increase renewables and climate finance, especially for the world’s most vulnerable communities.
A small business and community center powered by solar energy providing access to productive use of electricity locally, is also moving forward. This ‘Energy Hub’, for which land and funding are being secured, will promote community development through women’s empowerment and youth and employment programs, along with various educational components developed in conjunction with local and international NGOs.
The six-year process of developing and building Burundi’s first solar plant was led by Gigawatt Global, an award-winning green energy developer and independent power producer for Africa. Financing for the construction of the project was provided via a consortium including pan-African private equity investor Inspired Evolution via its Evolution II Fund, the UK government-funded Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP – managed by Camco), and Gigawatt Global. Political risk insurance and refinancing of construction debt is being led by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
UK Ambassador to Burundi, Omar Daair, said: “Today’s celebration of Burundi’s first grid-connected solar farm follows an extraordinary international effort to increase renewables and climate finance in one of the world’s most vulnerable countries. This pioneering solar project, proudly supported through UK international climate finance, has increased Burundi’s generation capacity by over 10% and is helping propel the country towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.”
Additional support for the project was provided directly and indirectly from the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP – a fund set up by Finland, the UK and Austria) and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO). Trinity International has advised the Gigawatt Global and Inspired Evolution equity teams since 2017. Engineering, procurement and construction services were provided by French firm Voltalia.
Gigawatt Global Burundi SA Managing Director Michael Fichtenberg said: “This project demonstrates how the world community can realize shared development goals by utilizing international financing facilities best suited for frontier and emerging markets.”
Gigawatt Global CEO Yosef Abramowitz said: “We thank our impact investors and strategic partners, as well as the Burundi government, for joining forces to accomplish this historic milestone fulfilling many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in Burundi. President Ndayishimiye is demonstrating the sort of leadership which will encourage additional foreign direct investment from us and our investment and development finance partners. Burundi’s business climate is continuing to improve and we are confident that we can continue to power their growth.”
Abramowitz, who was nominated by 12 African countries for the Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering commitment to green energy access, continued: “Green energy projects that serve the most vulnerable communities should be prioritized by the international community, and we hope many of the new international financing consortiums will partner with us to scale these impactful projects in the Least Development Countries.”
The Burundi field received the award for “Project of the Year” from EEP (https://eepafrica.org/gigawatt-2020-project-of-the-year/).
Notes to editors
Ismail Candolo, Investment Director at Inspired Evolution and project lead, said: “Connection to the grid is testament to a truly global effort to bring this project to fruition, demonstrating a model of cooperation and development with potential to unlock significant new generation capacity across Africa. We applaud all stakeholders, including the Government of Burundi, on their pioneering efforts to open up the IPP sector in Burundi, setting an example for other countries to follow.”
Geoff Sinclair, Managing Director of REPP’s investment manager, Camco, said: “Ever since REPP provided an initial development loan in December 2016, and later a construction and a subordinated loan, the Mubuga solar plant has been a flagship project for the programme. As Burundi’s first IPP and first utility-scale solar project, it has helped set the conditions for a whole pipeline of other projects, bringing further foreign direct investment into the country.”
Michael Fichtenberg, Gigawatt Global Burundi SA Managing Director, said: “While other countries across the globe continue to build polluting power plants with dangerous emission levels, this project demonstrates how new technology and international financing partnerships can provide the electricity needed for economic development and industry in emerging markets sustainably and responsibly.”
Sébastien Clerc, CEO of Voltalia, said: “Voltalia is very proud to contribute to the success of this project, for which we have carried out the engineering studies and construction. This project perfectly illustrates Voltalia’s strategy for our construction services in Africa; present already in 5 countries on the continent, we are committed to continuously act for the production of renewable energy accessible to the many, aligned with our mission to improve global environment fostering local development.”
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. A Dutch company backed by US investors with headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel, Gigawatt is led by a team of seasoned project developers, financiers, impact investors and green energy experts, who established and built Israel’s first utility-scale solar fields, as the Arava Power Company. Gigawatt is a founding partner of the US Power Africa program and built its first African solar field in Rwanda, in 2014, as well as a field near Atlanta, Georgia, in 2016. With over a dozen projects in advanced stages of development, including in Liberia, South Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and the Palestinian Authority, the company is presently raising its first institutional round of funding. www.gigawattglobal.com
About Inspired Evolution and Evolution II Fund
Inspired Evolution, investment advisor to Evolution I, II and III 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 manages over USD 500 million in commitments and has been involved in developing and financing more than 2GW of renewable energy infrastructure generation projects across Sub-Saharan Africa. Evolution II Fund’s investors include the African Development Bank (AfDB), The CDC Group, Cyane Holdings, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Dutch Development Bank FMO, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund), Morgan Stanley, Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund), Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) managed by Obviam, the Swedish government development financier, Swedfund and a US Healthcare investor. www.inspiredevolution.co.za.
US 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. www.dfc.gov/
The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), managed by Camco, works to mobilise private sector development activity – and investment – in small to medium-sized projects (typically up to 25MW) in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is supported with funding from the UK’s International Climate Finance through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and, to date, has agreed contracts with 42 renewable energy projects across 18 countries, employing seven different technologies, from SHS and PV mini-grids to onshore wind and run-of-river hydro. www.repp.energy
Camco is a specialist climate and impact fund manager, leading the transition in emerging markets. We offer clean, secure investments, pairing the conscience of a development bank with the agility of a private company. Camco is an Accredited Entity of the Green Climate Fund and is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. The company has offices in Accra, Auckland, Helsinki, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, Sydney and Toronto. www.camco.energy
Voltalia is an international player in the renewable energy sector. The Group produces and sells electricity generated from wind, solar, hydraulic, biomass and storage facilities that it owns and operates. Voltalia has generating capacity in operation and under construction of more than 1.4 GW and a portfolio of projects under development representing total capacity of 9.7 GW. Voltalia is also a service provider and supports its investor clients in renewable energy projects during all phases, from design to operation and maintenance. As a pioneer in the corporate market, Voltalia provides a global offer to private companies, ranging from the supply of green electricity and energy efficiency services to the local production of their own electricity. The Group has more than 1130 employees and is present in 20 countries on 4 continents and is able to act worldwide on behalf of its clients. Voltalia is listed on the regulated market of Euronext Paris, compartment B (FR0011995588 – VLTSA) and is part of the Enternext Tech 40 and CAC Mid & Small indices. The Group is also included in the Gaïa-Index, an index for socially responsible midcaps. www.voltalia.com