Dear Partners,

As you know from your own work to bring new energy to Africa, we’re in the middle of events season. Several high-level events focused on the African energy space are taking place now, or have recently concluded, including the World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings in Kigali, African Utility Week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings, the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) Annual Meetings, and this week, the Clean Energy Ministerial.

The Power Africa team has capitalized on these opportunities to make new connections and advance vital transactions. While in Rwanda for WEF, for example, Power Africa helped move two mini-hydro projects forward, and visited several communities where we--and you--are making a difference.

Here are some highlights from the last month:

$0.06 Grid-level Solar Power to be Developed in Zambia thanks to Power Africa
We were excited to learn that under the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program, which Power Africa is supporting with a $2 million grant in Zambia, provisional results from the competitive bidding process indicate that two companies will be able to provide 50 MW each at US$.0602/kWh and US$.0784/kWh, respectively. One bidder, NEOEN S.A.S./First Solar Inc., includes a U.S. company. The other company is Italy’s Enel Green Power S.p.A.  A total of forty-eight developers participated in the bidding process.

World Economic Forum (WEF) Highlights

Meeting of the Power Africa Senior Advisors Group and the SE4All/AfDB Africa Energy Leaders Group
Several high-level officials joined private sector partners and Power Africa's Advisors for a small "salon-style" dinner in Kigali to share ideas for tackling two issues: (1) Getting micro-grids to the point of commercial viability; and (2) Mobilizing public and private capital for grid roll-out. In addition to many U.S. Government agency leaders, other participants included Nigerian businessman Alike Dangote, Tony Blair, and AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.

The event also convened the African Governance Initiative Senior Advisors Group and the African Development Bank’s African Energy Leaders Group. There was clear consensus around the need for policy predictability, risk mitigation tools, and integrated planning. There was also agreement on the need for African governments to deploy alternative electrification solutions that can be implemented more quickly than via grid expansion.

WEF Energy Panel

We were honored to hear praise for Power Africa during the WEF Energy panel on the AfDB's New Deal on Energy. The Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal, Gabon, and Guinea joined AfDB President Adesina in lauding Power Africa during the pane. President Macky Sall, in particular, emphasized his strong desire for stepped up Power Africa activities in Senegal – a desire he reiterated in a bilateral meeting with MCC CEO Dana Hyde.

Power Africa Helps to “Unstick” Hydro Deals

In Rwanda, Power Africa met with partners Amharo Energy and DCPower to help them advance their mini-hydro projects. Both projects had received letters from the government indicating that their Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) had lapsed. USTDA Director Lee Zak and U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles worked closely with the Minister of Infrastructure on renewal of the PPAs, and both deals were ultimately signed just days after WEF, thanks to their interventions.

African Utility Week (AUW) Highlights

Launch of Understanding Power Project Financing Handbook

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and the AfDB’s African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) launched Power Africa's Understanding Power Project Financing handbook. ALSF hosted another launch for African government officials during the AfDB Annual Meetings, as well.

Power Africa Currency Workshop

Power Africa and several private sector partners hosted a half-day workshop on currency mitigation tools. This workshop addressed one of the greatest challenges to project bankability: the risks associated with currency fluctuations, mismatches, and repatriation.

Electrical Safety Workshop

USTDA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) held a workshop on electrical safety that covered fundamental components of a safe electrical system. The workshop highlighted the importance of being aware that decisions must be based on known safety codes and standards and practices, including knowledge gained by stakeholders worldwide over the past century.

Power Africa Business Roundtable

The U.S. Commercial Service, together with USAID, the Department of State, OPIC, USTDA and CLDP, hosted a U.S. Business Roundtable with eleven U.S. companies that were attending AUW to discuss their experiences concerning "doing business in Africa” within the power sector. The agencies gave a brief presentation outlining the energy landscape as well as outlining their various programs. During the informal conversation, U.S. companies raised questions and discussion points with Power Africa on assistance that could be provided in the areas of access to financing, risk mitigation, local content requirements, government advocacy, identification of local partners and tender opportunities.

African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meeting Highlights

High-Level Panel on AfDB’s “Light Up and Power Africa” Campaign

Power Africa partners led a high-level panel on the AfDB’s energy initiative, which included Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, SE4All’s Rachel Kyte, the UK’s Nick Hurd, and GE’s Jay Ireland

Solar Fair Highlights Power Africa’s Off-Grid Partners

Power Africa partners Mobisol, SunEnergy, Power for All, and others were featured at an Off-Grid Solar Fair. Watch highlights in this video from AfDB.

Grant for Solar in Ghana

USTDA recently awarded a US$704,815 grant to Home Energy Africa, a Ghanaian solar power developer, for technical assistance that will help bring this US$180 million project towards financial close. Home Energy Africa has selected GreenMax Capital Advisors to carry out the technical assistance. This effort will include preparations for PPA negotiations, EPC and Operations & Management (O&M) services contracts, and financing arrangements.

Energy Efficiency Roadmap in Uganda

Under Power Africa’s partnership with the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), we are jointly developing an Energy Efficiency Roadmap for Uganda. Supported by the Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory (LBNL) and the International consultant group (ICF), a country scoping study has been done and the Roadmap is expected to be launched in November 2016.

Supporting Solar in Senegal

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provided US$2,025,124 in reinsurance coverage to ACE Bermuda International Insurance (Ireland), Limited.  ACE is providing political risk insurance to Meridiam Africa Investments SAS, which will develop, own and operate the Senergy 29.49 MW photovoltaic solar farm in Santhiou Mekhe (commune de Meouane), approximately 150 km north of Dakar. The solar farm will deliver 20 MW of power to the national grid via a newly constructed 9.5 km transmission line.

Beyond the Grid Partners Meeting

Power Africa held a successful Beyond the Grid partners meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on May 26. This meeting, co-located with the GOGLA Annual Members Meeting, focused on strengthening the off-grid sector with a focus on financing, as well as a peer-to-peer investor forum. The meeting included discussions of financing needs by private sector, challenges and solutions to using Power Africa tools, highlights of Power Africa-partner collaboration and provided an update of recent Power Africa Beyond the Grid activities.  The investor forum brought investor partners together for an exclusive discussion around pipeline, terms and priorities.

Power Africa in the News

Power Africa was featured in a number of media reports in May, including a cover story in African Business Magazine on Africa’s energy revolution; a story in Institutional Investor magazine profiling the Azura-Edo Independent Power Project as a potential model for how deals can be done; a guest column in the Guardian by Tony Elumelu on his ‘Africapitalism’ concept that spotlights Power Africa as a “good example of leveraging FDI for high development impact”; and a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit on renewable energy that notes the impact of Power Africa.

Looking ahead, the upcoming Africa Energy Forum (AEF) in London and theGlobal Entrepreneurship Summit in Palo Alto will provide additional openings for Power Africa and partners to push toward achievement of our goals.

In the meantime, thank you for all you do to help Power Africa, and I look forward to our next meeting!