InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed convertible loan agreements worth $2.2m to support development of the Sumburu and Transmara solar photovoltaic projects in Kenya. The projects, each 10MWac, are being developed by Gigawatt Global, which developed the 8.5MW Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village solar plant in Rwanda with financing from the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, another PIDG company. Both plants are expected to begin operating in 2021.
Transmara will be located in Narok, north of the Maasai Mara Nature Reserve. The area is growing rapidly but youth unemployment, in particular, is high. Firewood and charcoal account for 80% of total energy use, according to InfraCo Africa. Electricity access in 2018 in the county was 20%. Samburu is located in Kwale county in the south east of the country. Kwale is one of Kenya’s poorest counties, with 80% of household incomes coming from subsistence farming. Only 11% of the population use electricity for lighting.
InfraCo Africa said that the focus in Kenya to-date has been on large utility-scale projects or very small off-grid systems. These two projects are intended to demonstrate that small but strategically sited on-grid solar plants can be commercially viable. They are also exploring the possibility that one of the plants could use a Kenyan shilling-denominated power purchase agreement (PPA), which would be one of the first local currency PPAs in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Recognising the challenges faced by the Kenyan power sector, we are excited to be pioneering 10MW solar independent power producers and demonstrating the benefits of strategically locating small-scale generation whilst facilitating economic development within poor and underserved counties”, said InfraCo Africa business development manager Alix Graham.
The company has put together a portfolio with seven solar projects under development, one project – the 60MW Salima plant in Malawi – under construction, and three investments in solar mini-grid companies.
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