French investment firm Rgreen Invest and investment adviser Echosys Invest have announced the first closing of their new Afrigreen Debt Impact Fund. The two companies raised €87.5 million, from an initial target of €100 million. The funds will finance on-grid and off-grid solar plants for small- and medium-sized commercial and industrial customers in Africa.
The first closing includes a commitment from the European Investment Bank (EIB), International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Program, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), and Proparco. Societe Generale and BNP Paribas also participated in the first funding round.
“Africa boasts 39% of the world's total renewable potential, and yet investment in renewable energy has been lagging behind, for a set of reasons that include the lack of suitable financial instruments, which especially affects the most dynamic segment of the market, commercial and industrial solar users,” said Olivier Leruste, the president of Echosys Invest, which is the joint venture that manages the Afrigreen Debt Impact Fund's investment strategy.
BloombergNEF reports that global investments in renewable energy increased by 9% year on year to an all-time high in 2021. However, investments fell by 35% in Africa, representing just 0.6% of all global renewable energy investments. Afrigreen said it aims to bridge this funding gap through direct lending and asset-based debt facilities for regional and international developers and African commercial and industrial companies.
“Representing 90% of all businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, and industries are a segment that struggles to attract financing,” said Rgreen Invest CEO Nicolas Rochon. “We target a diversified portfolio comprising 20 to 30 investments, intervening to meet long-term debt financing needs hovering between €10 million and €15 million, with an average ticket around €5 million over eight to 10 years.”
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