Africa-focused venture seeks to electrify continent

The creation of a new $3.3 billion joint energy venture aims to tackle Africa's chronic power shortages.


LAGOS - Two Africa-focused funds have created a new energy joint venture capable of generating 1,575 megawatts (MW) of electricity in at least 10 countries by merging assets totalling $3.3 billion.

Chronic power shortages are one of the biggest obstacles to growth in countries across Africa, with a dearth of electricity or regular blackouts strangling industries and the continent is turning to outside investors and renewables to boost output.

The deal to develop and finance projects, announced on Wednesday, brings together Lagos-based Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and Harith General Partners, which has offices in South Africa and Ivory Coast.

Harith's interests include Azura Edo independent power plant (IPP), a gas turbine power station in Nigeria, and Kelvin Power Station in South Africa. AFC's include the Kpone IPP under construction in Ghana, and Cabeolica wind farm in Cape Verde.

"The joint venture's near-term portfolio supplies reliable energy to over 30 million people in at least 10 African countries and has a combined gross operational and under-construction capacity of 1,575 MW," they said in a statement.

A report published last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said an estimated 643 million people are living without electricity in Africa, with 80 percent based in rural areas.

Established in 2007, the AFC provides public and private money for major infrastructure projects around Africa and has a balance sheet of $3.2 billion.

It is 42.5% owned by Nigeria's central bank, 47.6% by other African financial institutions and 9.8% by industrial and corporate shareholders, according to its website.