An ambitious project seeking to raise US$ 4.8 million in equity financing to bring clean energy to telecom infrastructure in Nigeria using solar mini-grids won the business plan competition at the Private Financing Advisory Network’s Fourth West Africa Forum for Climate and Clean Energy Financing, hosted by the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in late September.

The Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN) offers free business coaching and investor matchmaking services to entrepreneurs developing promising climate adaptation and clean energy projects in low- and middle-income countries. Projects that have received support from PFAN have leveraged over US$ 1.6 billion to date.

The winning project, an initiative by First Watt Renewables Ltd., was presented to the Forum’s audience by Director of Operations Oluwole Eweje with support from Chief Investment Officer Sherisse Alexander. First Watt began working with PFAN coach Monica Samec in January 2019. The project had also received support from Get.Invest in 2018. At the PFAN Forum, a jury made up of representatives of Oikokredit, EBID, Lions Head, Convergence and Proparco scored the First Watt project 81.25 out of a 100 for investment-readiness.

Commenting on his successful pitch, Eweje said: “I am feeling excited as the event was very successful for us. It was the first time that I felt that our passion towards our project was being realized by others. I would definitely encourage every serious sustainable energy developer to join the program, as the coaching received is worth the hard work.”

Besides First Watt, seven other companies pitched projects with an investment ask ranging from US$ 1.2 million to US$ 300 million, with a total investment value of close to US$ 400 million. The projects came from five different countries in the ECOWAS region. They had been carefully selected from more than 30 projects currently supported by PFAN in the region.

Albert Boateng, PFAN Regional Coordinator for West Africa, commented: “I am very impressed with the quality of projects showcased at WAFCCEF4. I am equally satisfied with the positive feedback from the investor audience attesting to the value add of the PFAN approach to climate and clean energy project development and financing. I remain confident that they will find these projects as attractive and investment-worthy as the case has been made by the developers.”

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Three companies were selected by the jury as runners-up. Dutch & Co pitched for US$ 2 to 4 million to scale up its activities of installing energy efficient LED lights as well as solar energy generation capacity for commercial and industrial clients throughout the ECOWAS region. Benoo Energies is seeking US$ 1.3 million to build 500 solar energy kiosks for productive use in rural Togo. SWEEP Ghana Limited pitched for US$ 80 million for a waste-to-energy facility that will process 20% of Accra’s solid municipal waste to provide enough power for more than 300,000 people.

Piet Hein Dankelman of Dutch & Co commented: “It was challenging and inspiring to work alongside with experienced people from the climate and clean energy industry, all motivated to arrange financing and to ‘make things happen’.” Bubacar Diallo of Benoo Energies agreed, saying that “the forum was a great moment of exchanges with other projects and a source of contacts to accelerate the financing of our project.”

Discussing his wider experience working with PFAN, Carl Acolatse of SWEEP Ghana said that it “opened me up to an entirely new dimension of project development and financing that I did not know existed. It’s innovative, time bound, and result oriented.” He called the PFAN process “one of the most intense experiences of my career – the process pushed me to write a comprehensive business plan and prepare a top notch investor pitch for a large complex multi-million dollar project in less than 1 month.”

The Forum was opened by Daniel Schroth, Director of Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency at the African Development Bank. He said that the annual Investment Forum “plays a crucial role in the development of the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs on the continent and provides a link between investment initiatives managed by the African Development Bank and by other financial institutions.” Schroth added: “In the past, we have supported other WAFCCEF winners through the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), and we hope to pick some more projects for the Bank’s pipeline during this fourth edition of WAFCCEF!”

Other speakers included Sire Diallo, Coordinator of the Private Support Facility of the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and Peter Storey, PFAN Founder and Global Coordinator. The Forum was organised in partnership with ECREEE, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment & Development (EBID-BIDC) and the African Biofuel & Renewable Energy Company (ABREC-SABER).

PFAN’s network consists of over 150 climate and clean energy financing experts all over the world. The programme is hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Vienna, Austria and generously supported by the governments of Australia, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States as well as the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP).

Are you developing a climate adaptation or clean energy project in the West Africa region and would you like to apply for no-cost PFAN support? Find all information on the benefits of working with PFAN, the eligibility criteria and the application process on www.pfan.net.

Are you interested in investing in promising, high-impact climate adaptation or clean energy projects in West Africa or beyond? Contact us at info@pfan.net to initiate a discussion on which of our projects might be a good fit for you portfolio.