Denham Capital, a leading global energy-focused private equity firm, and GreenWish Partners, a renewable energy investment company dedicated to sub-Saharan Africa, today announced a partnership to develop, build and finance a portfolio of 600 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy assets across sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. The capital commitment will allow the African renewables platform to carry out a USD$1 billion project pipeline.
Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian, CEO of GreenWish, said, “We look forward to partnering with Denham for this expansion phase of GreenWish in sub-Saharan Africa. Independent power producers such as GreenWish are a key solution to the African electricity gap that requires more than $40 billion in annual investments. Our strategic partnership with Denham gives us the means and scale to carry out our ambition and mission for a competitive and sustainable electrification of Africa.”
GreenWish was founded by Aubin-Kalaidjian in 2010, whose 20 years of experience includes renewable energy investment work with the company and in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, and Gilles Parmentier, who spent a decade in the energy infrastructure sector, including with the World Bank and Macquarie. Together, the two founders have successfully structured over 20 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy projects and funded over $10 billion in projects.
Last February, GreenWish launched the construction of the Senergy II project, the largest solar independent power producer project being built in sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with French construction group Vinci. The 20 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic plant (PV) is located in Bokhol, next to Senegal’s border with Mauritania and will be completed in October 2016, providing electricity access to over 180,000 Senegalese. With Denham’s backing, the company aims to build on this first success and provide power capacity to other parts of the continent.
“We focus on countries where renewable energy projects offer a competitive solution to the power gap, without subsidies,” explained Parmentier, Chief Investment Officer at GreenWish. “GreenWish is looking at both on and off-grid projects in a number of countries and aims at offering B2B solar hybrid solutions to energy intensive industries, including telecom operators, mining and commercial off-takers.”
“It’s rare to find a management team that has the experience developing power projects in sub-Saharan Africa Charlotte, Gilles and the rest of the GreenWish team possesses,” shared Scott Mackin, Managing Partner and Co-President at Denham Capital. “While they have an ambitious goal, we are confident they will be able to deliver cost-competitive and much-needed power generation resources to the region because of their strong sense of personal commitment to the effort and their track record.”
More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. Total African power generation capacity is limited to 90 GW while the continent enjoys on average 300 sunny days per year. Solar energy is a solution to Africa’s electricity shortage that is both competitive and clean with a short time to market. Excluding South Africa, average annual consumption is around 162 kWh per capita, a fraction of the global average of 7,000 kWh. Energy-sector bottlenecks and power shortages cost the region 2-4 percent of GDP annually, undermining sustainable economic growth, jobs and investment.
Jens Thomassen, Director at Denham Capital, concluded, “Sub-Saharan Africa is the most underserved power region in the world, but with a tremendous potential. The biggest constraint we see is human capital. In GreenWish, we have found a proven management team that can build power plants in a local setting and to an international standard. GreenWish is a prime example of a team that possesses the network and know-how to provide development opportunities. They are built to thrive in this evolving environment and we’re excited about the opportunities ahead for them”.