15 Februrary 2021 - Off-grid utilities provider and ARE Member Winch Energy has completed the funding for solar mini-grid projects in 49 villages across Uganda and Sierra Leone through the creation of a new platform.
The deal, executed by Winch Energy IPP Holdings Limited (WIPP), represents the largest mini-grid financing portfolio to date.
The first $16m phase will connect more than 6,500 customers in the Lamwo district of Uganda and in Tonkolili, Koinadugu and Bombali districts of Sierra Leone.
A further 6,000 portable batteries will also be installed through the project to provide people outside of the mini-grid catchment area with clean electricity.
In addition to energy access, the project will also provide internet to the communities through partnerships with telecom operators in both countries.
The developments will open up a pipeline of additional projects in both countries, further securing Winch Energy’s position in the off-grid market, the company said.
Together, the Winch Energy and NEoT investment vehicle, Winch IPP Holdings Limited, expects to expand operations into more countries, with ambitions to reach some $100m of operating projects in the next 24 months.
The investment comes from Winch Energy Limited in partnership with NEoT Offgrid Africa, which is backed by Meridiam, EDF and Mitsubishi Corporation.
NEoT Offgrid Africa “supports and accelerates Africa’s energy transition” and already invested more than €30m in the electrification of 25,000 homes and businesses in Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
ARE Member SunFunder is also providing an additional $2m construction loan to the project.
The partnership is in advanced discussions with two international development finance institutions to bring debt into the project, which has been agreed in principle.
Subsidies are provided by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (formerly DFID) for the projects in Sierra Leone and by the German Development Ministry (BMZ) and European Union in support of the Ugandan projects.
The project development is also supported by GIZ in Uganda and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Sierra Leone.
Winch Energy is owned by Total Eren, Itochu Corporation, Al Gihaz Holdings and Winch Partners.
The mini-grids will be built with Winch Energy’s own proprietary technology, the Remote Power Unit (RPU), and will be operational within the next 12 months, providing remote communities with affordable, clean energy and access to essential services.