Solar field boosts Burundi’s generation capacity by 10%
Multinational effort brings first solar field to Burundi
7.5 MW utility-scale power plant increases East African country’s generation capacity by more than 10% on the eve of COP26
Gitega, Burundi – 25 October 2021: A multinational effort to bring solar power to Burundi has been realized with the commercial operation of the country’s first-ever solar field. The pioneering 7.5 MW solar PV plant has increased Burundi’s generation capacity by over 10%, and is the country’s first substantial energy generation project to go online in over three decades, supplying clean power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses – just before the start of COP26. (Watch the launch video)
The plant near the village of Mubuga supports international efforts to increase renewables and climate finance, especially for the world’s most vulnerable communities.
The six-year process of 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, the UK government-funded Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP – managed by Camco Clean Energy), and Gigawatt Global. The construction loans are being refinanced by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
UK Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, Greg Hands, said: “Today’s launch of Burundi’s first grid-connected solar farm will light up the nation’s energy system. It will strengthen the national grid supply and propel forward a promising future for the country in clean, green energy. Set to increase Burundi’s power generation capacity by 10%, this pioneering project, backed by UK government funding, is a fantastic example of countries working together ahead of COP26. Investing in a green future benefits the economy and the planet.”
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), 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, and political risk re-insurance is provided by DFC.
Gigawatt Global CEO Josef Abramowitz said: “We thank our impact investors and strategic partners, as well as the Burundi government, for joining forces to accomplish this historic milestone on the road to climate justice and fulfilling many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
Abramowitz, who was nominated by 12 African countries for the 2021 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.”
The Burundi field recently received the award for “Project of the Year” from EEP.
Gigawatt Global is also building a community center powered by solar energy that will offer local access to productive use of electricity. The center will focus on community development through women’s empowerment and youth and employment programs, along with various educational components being developed with local and international NGOs.
Notes to editors
For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact Aryeh Green, Chief Strategy Officer of Gigawatt Global, at firstname.lastname@example.org / +972-54-648-2344
James Eedes, Partner at Inspired Evolution, 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 Clean Energy, 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. Seeing the plant finally connected to Burundi’s national grid is a testament to the resolve and commitment of all of the many stakeholders who believed in this project against the odds, and I think we can feel proud of this achievement and the positive impact it will have on Burundi.”
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.”
Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi SA and the lead project director, said: “Bringing clean energy to one of the world’s least developed countries fulfils Gigawatt Global’s mission to be a premier impact platform of choice for renewables in Africa. 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, REPP and our other financing partners, as well as our partners in the government of Burundi, in particular the Ministry of Energy.”
- Project launch video of solar field with interviews with project managers
- Time-lapse of construction of the field
- Half the panels up
- Workers singing while unrolling cable
- Drumming ceremony as the local village warmly receives a delegation from Gigawatt Global to the land where construction is about to begin on the 7.5 MW solar field
- Remarks by Michael Fichtenberg, MD of Gigawatt Global Burundi SA at a ceremony distributing hand-held solar chargers to community leaders at a football match in the early stages of the project, featuring Patrick Nzitunga, Assistant MD, and the Honorable Jean Jacques NYENIMIGABO, MP of Mubuga zone
Photos and captions:
More photos/videos available here.
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
The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), managed by Camco Clean Energy, 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 30 renewable energy projects across 16 countries, employing seven different technologies, from SHS and PV mini-grids to biomass and run-of-river hydro. www.repp.energy
About Camco Clean Energy
Camco Clean Energy is a specialist fund manager focused on renewable energy, climate finance and impact in emerging markets. We offer elegant and practical financing solutions to lead the clean energy transition, pairing the conscience of a development bank with the agility of a small private company. Camco manages REPP and in January 2021 became an Accredited Entity of the Green Climate Fund. The company has offices in Accra, Helsinki, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi and Toronto. www.camco.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 1.2GW 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. https://www.dfc.gov/
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