Access Infra Africa targeting 350MW in renewable energy

Venture plans to invest $500m in power projects across the continent

PHOTO: Access Infra Africa's $500m plan has a strong focus on solar. Credit: Shutterstock

Access Infra Africa (AIA), an early stage developer of renewable energy projects in Africa, is targeting 350MW in generation capacity over a 3-5 year period.

The venture in January said it has raised $500m to invest in renewable energy projects across the continent, with a strong focus on solar power.

AIA says it will approach renewable energy projects as an independent power producer and is currently pursuing projects in 15 African countries, including Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda.

“Many governments, international financial institutions and development finance institutions have committed funds for power projects in Africa, but this money is largely left unspent as there aren’t enough projects. But this also opens up opportunities for well-resourced and experienced developers to come in, take early-stage project risks and turn good concepts into bankable projects,” said Reda El Chaar, chairman of Access.

El Chaar claims that return on investment (RoI) on renewable energy projects in Africa can exceed returns for similar projects in Europe or even the Middle East.

He says: “Returns are always in proportion to the risk taken. In Africa, the RoI can be higher, and definitely better than some of the corporate junk bonds in the developed markets.”

AIA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dubai-based Access Power MEA, a power project developer focused on the Middle East and Africa, and Paris-headquartered EREN, a leading global investor in power projects.

The firm was last month prequalified by Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity to develop large-scale wind and solar power plants as part of the first round of Egypt’s renewable energy procurement programme.

The company is aiming to build a renewable energy portfolio of 300MW in Egypt, and will finalise the size of its investment by the end of the first quarter of 2015 once the Ministry of Electricity provides further clarifications about its procurement strategy.

In December 2014, AIA bagged its first major deal with a $17m contract to build, own and operate a 10MWp solar photovoltaic facility in Soroti, north eastern Uganda. Future markets on AIA’s radar include Tunisia and Ethiopia.

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