$280m solar projects: Investors mull 70% debt-financing

Seventy per cent of financing for $280 million solar power projects in Nigeria will be executed through debt. GreenWish Partners, a Paris- based independent power producer stated this. The company, according to its prospectus, is expected to start producing electricity in the first quarter of next year.

Chief Executive Officer of the company, Charlotte Aubin- Kalaidjian, had earlier said that a plant in the southeastern state of Enugu would produce 100 megawatts, while the company will build two others of 50 megawatts each in the northern Kaduna and Jigawa states.

Checks by New Telegraph showed that the project will be funded 70 per cent through debt and 30 per cent through equity. Aubin-Kalaidjian who, also confirmed this, added that the plants will, on completion, provide power to 2.5 million people. “We only take risks where solar makes sense, where it is competitive and where there is political support,” she said.

“This government is very committed to developing power and renewables, especially in regions where there is no gas available.” Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country of over 180 million people, faces 8,000-megawatt energy shortfall, having capacity to generate only about 4,000 megawatts of electricity.Most plans for new capacity focused on using natural gas from the southern petroleum region until the Power, Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, introduced a framework to accommodate solar-power producers last year.

That has resulted in a power- purchase agreement with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, the clearing house of the local electricity market, to enable GreenWish sell to the national grid.

The transactions are in the local currency but denominated in dollars to hedge against naira-value fluctuations, Aubin- Kalaidjian said. Nigeria has struggled to meet its foreign-currency needs since the price of crude, its main export, tumbled from peaks reached in mid-2014 and militant attacks in the oil-rich Niger River delta cut output.

Shortages have put pressure on the naira, causing it to lose more than a third of its value in the past year. “It creates a challenge when the industry has their business linked to the naira,” Aubin-Kalaidjian said. “So it’s important to take that into account and structure properly.”

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