African Renewable Energy Fund raises $200 million

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The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) has raised $200 million of committed capital to support small to medium scale projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

The fund aims to invest between $10 million and $30 million in 10 MW to 50 MW power projects and expects to build a total of 200 MW to 250 MW of capacity in sub-Saharan Africa (not including South Africa), where two-thirds of the population remain without access to electricity.

Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, AREF held its first close of $100 million in March 2014 and since that time has been investing capital in grid-connected development stage renewable energy projects, including solar, small hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) are among AREF’s main investors. As the Fund’s lead sponsor, the AfDB contributed $55 million in an equity investment package as well as climate finance instruments such as Sustainable Energy for Africa (SEFA) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to leverage commercial and institutional investment. SEFA has additionally committed a $10 million Project Support Facility (PSF), which will provide resources to be deployed at an early stage to structure bankable deals.

“AfDB is pleased to see that AREF is now fully capitalised to deliver on its pan-African mandate,” said Alex Rugamba, director of AfDB’s Energy and Climate Change Department. “We are also equally excited that SEFA and GEF participation have been catalytic in mobilizing significant amounts of commercial capital into AREF over a short time-frame; this is key for accelerating deployment of modern, clean and affordable energy in the continent.”

AREF, the first dedicated sub-Saharan African renewable energy fund, is managed by Berkeley Energy, a fund manager focused on developing and investing in renewable energy projects in emerging markets. Berkeley Energy, which has offices in London, Singapore, Mauritius, Delhi and Nairobi, also manages dedicated renewable energy funds in Asia.

Other investors that have backed AREF include the West African Development Bank (BOAD), Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), FMO, Calvert Investments, CDC Group, BIO, OeEB – the Development Bank of Austria, Wallace Global Fund, Sonen Capital, Berkeley Energy and ABREC in addition to a number of other private investors.

Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank vice president, added that as “one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy, the European Investment Bank is committed to ensuring that new projects can be implemented around the world. This engagement is demonstrated through our support for the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, GEEREF. Our combined backing for the African Renewable Energy Fund will provide both financial support and share technical experience essential for smaller renewable schemes being implemented for the first time.”