7 October, 2021 Member article

nOa and Winch Energy Deploy New Solar Solutions in Uganda and Sierra Leone

4 October 2021 – NEoT Offgrid Africa (NOA) and Winch Energy Limited have invested around $12 million in mini-grid projects in Uganda and Sierra Leone, contributing to their global ambition to build the largest portfolio of mini-grids in Sub-Saharan Africa, and reach a portfolio worth $100 million.

Thanks to this project, 49 villages in Sierra Leone and Uganda will be equipped with off-grid and remotely controllable solar solutions – Remote Power Units (RPU) – that will supply power to nearly 60,000 people. The RPUs will be designed and manufactured by Winch Energy through its assembly facility in Sicily, Italy. In a second phase, 6,000 portable batteries will be deployed in these villages to serve people who live too far from the power unit. At the same time, partnerships with telecom operators will be established to guarantee Internet access for households.

Installation of the project has already started with the RPU’s for the first 13 villages shipped to Uganda. All 25 RPU’s are expected to arrive in Uganda before the end of 2021. An additional 12 village power plants are also already operational in Sierra Leone and providing customers with clean energy. The Uganda sites are expected to be operational in early 2022, while all 24 sites in Sierra Leone will be operational by Q2 2022.

This project contributes directly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, including among others:

Accessible and clean energy (SDG7) to villages which currently have a limited access to electricity mainly derived from fossil fuels;

Climate Action (SDG13) by promoting power generation from solar energy and contributing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Decent work and economic growth (SDG8) by supporting local employment with at least 65 local permanent jobs created and many more during the construction phase.

Poverty alleviation (SDG1), good health and well-bring (SDG3) and quality education (SDG4) through connecting businesses, schools and health centers to reliable and clean electricity

Effective public-private and civil society partnerships (SDG17 “Partnerships for the goal”) with the involvement of both Uganda and Sierra Leone governments, international agencies as well as private sector actors.

Winch Energy IPP Holdings Limited (WIPP), where NOA is the main shareholder, is the new investment platform for those projects. FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, has arranged a syndicated facility where FMO (through the Access to Energy Fund) and the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) – managed by Camco Clean Energy (Camco) – will lend to WIPP a first tranche of around $4 million for the portfolio of mini grids in Uganda and Sierra Leone. A second tranche of up to $6 million is also included in the facility to finance future projects since WIPP plans to expand its operations in Sierra Leone, Uganda and to other countries.

“We are obviously delighted to close this debt financing from FMO and REPP Camco, which represents a landmark for the off-grid industry in Africa and Worldwide” said Nicholas Wrigley, CEO of Winch Energy. “This first tranche represents the beginning of our investment programme with our partner NOA and additional investments will soon follow in Sierra Leone and Uganda and we are also targeting Nigeria and Ethiopia for 2022. The teams at Winch Energy and NOA have worked extraordinarily hard to bring about this innovative debt financing and for that I wish to thank them.”