The Netherlands Development Finance Corporation (FMO) and the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) are partnering to provide a $10 million syndicated credit facility to Winch Energy IPP Holdings (WIPP). This financing vehicle was established by Winch Energy in partnership with NEoT Off-grid Africa to finance 49 solar mini-grids in Uganda and Sierra Leone.
The syndicated credit facility arranged by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) will be provided in two tranches. The first tranche of $4 million will be used for the Winch Energy IPP Holdings (WIPP) project portfolio. This is a green mini-grid financing mechanism set up by Winch Energy in partnership with NEoT Off-grid Africa, a platform developed by Électricité de France (EDF), the Japanese firm Mitsubishi and Meridiam, a French company specialized in the development, financing and management of infrastructure projects.
WIPP is set up with the ambition to invest 16 million euros to build 49 solar mini-grids for the electrification of rural areas in Uganda and Sierra Leone. These remote power units (RPUs) will provide electricity to nearly 60,000 people. “In a second phase, 6,000 portable batteries will be deployed in villages to serve people who live too far from the RPU. At the same time, partnerships with telecom operators will be established to ensure internet access to households,” explains Winch Energy.
The second $6 million tranche of the syndicated credit facility provided by FMO and REPP is intended to finance future WIPP projects. The green mini-grid financing facility plans to expand its projects in Sierra Leone, Uganda, and other sub-Saharan African countries. WIPP will enter the Nigerian and Ethiopian markets in 2022. The partnership is now targeting a $100 million investment in mini-grids in sub-Saharan Africa.
For the time being, Winch Energy, which is building WIPP’s portfolio, has already started deploying its prefabricated power generation units. The first units have already been installed in 13 Ugandan villages. The Nicholas Wrigley-led company will deploy another 25 mini-grids in rural Uganda before the end of 2021.
As for Sierra Leone, the mini-grid provider has already commissioned 12 units that provide electricity to households and small businesses. The remaining 24 mini-grids will be operational in the second quarter of 2022. FMO is investing in this electrification project through the Energy Access Fund (EAF), a fund launched jointly with the Dutch government to support the private sector in providing energy access in developing countries.
Jean Marie Takouleu