The promotion of renewable energy in Africa was the focus of a seminar entitled Opportunity Africa: Sustainable Energy Investments held on June 24 and 25 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The gathering was jointly organized by the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA), UNEP Risoe Centre and the African Development Bank (AfDB). The participants discussed new investment opportunities in sustainable energy in Africa, with participation from Nordic private sector, African project developers, and representatives of the AfDB. In particular, the event presented the opportunities offered by the specific funds set up with the AfDB, concrete projects under development, as well practical guidance for interested investors.
The need for increased investments in sustainable energy supply in Sub-Saharan Africa is recognized as a top priority. The seminar brought together a broad group of relevant actors with a common interest in sustainable energy activities: financial investors eager to find new investments, projects developers, industry, country stakeholders and donors. The range of funds and initiatives available to unlock investments in the sector was highlighted.
AfDB presented the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), a US$ 60-million facility (seeded by DANIDA and USAID), to provide project development and equity financing to enhance bankability of projects and catalyse private investments in small to medium-sized projects. AREF, a dedicated renewable energy fund which achieved its first financial close of US$ 100 million early this year with anchor investments from AfDB and SEFA was officially launched in Europe by the Danish Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation, Mogens Jensen and the US Ambassador in Denmark, Rufus Gifford. Andrew Reicher of Berkeley Energy which manages AREF indicated: fundraising is progressing and the full US$ 200 million will be raised by final closing which will be invested in a variety of grid-connected development stage energy projects. The event also provided an opportunity for AfDB to present the Africa50 Fund, a vehicle which is expected to be a game-changer in African infrastructure finance according to Tas Anvaripour, AfDB Director for Business Development.
Alex Rugamba, Director of Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department opened the event saying: The Bank is pleased to partner with the Government of Denmark in promoting private sector engagement in the development of the power sector in Africa through sustainable energy technologies. Joao Duarte Cunha, SEFA coordinator, later added that the seminar was key to linking Nordic capital and know-how in renewables to credible projects and investment vehicles in the continent sponsored by AfDB.