OPIC's Africa Clean Energy Financing Facility Supported 27 Early Stage Projects Since 2012
December 11, 2017
The U.S. Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF), a five-year collaboration between OPIC, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S. Department of State, has supported 27 early-stage renewable energy projects totaling 470 MW in 11 African countries to expand access to electricity, since it was launched in 2012. Of these, 17 have reached or are nearing commercial operation, underscoring the program’s success in helping early stage power projects launch.
The innovative ACEF program is winding down this year after having provided critical early stage support to a range of projects, from Rwanda’s first utility-scale solar power plant to a provider of solar lighting in Nigeria. By helping so many early-stage projects get off the ground, the program also helped many promising businesses mature to the point they were eligible for project finance from OPIC and other sources. OPIC has committed a total of $369 million in financing and insurance to graduates of the ACEF program and these projects have raised an additional $443 million in capital from other sources, ultimately resulting in $30 mobilized for every $1 from ACEF. For example, SunFunder, a solar financing company for Sub-Saharan Africa, assembled a $50 million Beyond the Grid fund that has already delivered energy to 2.5 million people.
“Through the ACEF program, OPIC has been able to support several highly innovative projects that addressed some of the toughest challenges of expanding access to electricity in Africa, such as reaching remote populations,” said Lynn Tabernacki, OPIC Deputy Vice President, SME Finance and Head of Global Energy. “In the process of learning the challenges faced by early stage companies, particularly in the off-grid sector, we began to understand the long term need for these projects to succeed and we were able to craft financial structures that fit their needs.”
The ACEF program was launched to help early-stage businesses address some of the challenges such as feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments that can be costly and time consuming by providing promising projects early stage support.
By addressing the specific needs of early-stages businesses, the program served as a key pillar in the U.S. Power Africa Initiative aimed at bringing electricity to many of the estimated 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa who live without regular access.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.
OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers. All OPIC projects must adhere to best international practices and cannot cause job loss in the United States.