News 2021

Quarter 4, 2021

Africa REN launches the construction of the largest solar plant in Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, October 20, 2021 - Africa REN, a pioneer in clean infrastructures in Africa, announces it has launched the construction of the Kodeni Solar power plant, near Bobo-Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso. With an installed capacity of 38MW, Kodeni Solar will be the largest solar power plant in the country as well as the first public-private partnership to reach financial close. The plant is scheduled to be commissioned in August 2022.

Kodeni Solar has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with SONABEL, the electricity utility of Burkina Faso, as part of a public-private partnership with the government. The construction was entrusted to French specialist INEO by EQUANS, a company of Engie Group. The project will create 150 direct jobs in the construction phase and 35 permanent jobs in the operation phase.

With an annual production of 73,000 MWh, the Kodeni solar power plant will provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to nearly 115,000 homes. It will also reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels and avoid the emission of 41 000 tons of CO2 each year, helping Burkina Faso to further address climate change.

Gilles Parmentier, CEO of Africa REN, said: “We are particularly proud of the step we are taking today. Kodeni Solar will be the largest solar power plant in Burkina Faso to become operational. We would like to extend our special thanks to the Government of Burkina Faso and to the teams at SONABEL for their warm welcome and unwavering support in bringing this project to fruition in a very short timeframe.”

H.E. Dr. Bachir Ismael Ouedraogo, Minister of Energy, said, “This is an essential project for the energy autonomy of Burkina Faso. Solar energy is the cheapest and most abundant source of electricity for the country. Kodeni Solar also demonstrates that the framework put in place by the government to encourage public-private partnerships is beginning to bear fruit. More than 500MW of capacity will be added before 2025 at an extremely competitive price, to the benefit of the Burkinabe population and businesses.”

Development of the project was undertaken by Africa REN with the support of the Seed Capital Assistance Facility, an initiative from the United Nations Environment Programme, that co-financed the project development phase. FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, Access to Energy Fund (a fund managed by FMO on behalf of the Dutch government) and the Interact Climate Change Facility (ICCF), a joint facility of European Development Institutions, provided the long-term debt.

Huub Cornelissen, Director Energy at FMO, said: “Kodeni Solar is one of our first investment in Burkina Faso, a country where we feel welcome and where there is tremendous opportunity in the renewables sector. With our partners in the country and in the wider region, we are thrilled to engage in a greener future for the Sahel at a time when such investment is badly needed.”

To support its ambition to develop more clean energy and sustainable infrastructure projects, Africa REN teamed up with Metier Sustainable Capital, a private equity fund focused on clean infrastructure investments across Africa, managed by Metier, and FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank. Metier and FMO established and funded Africa REN Energy, a newly formed investment holding dedicated to support Africa REN’s projects, as well as the operating entities of the Africa REN Group. Africa REN Energy provided the equity to the project and is now the sole shareholder of Kodeni Solar.

Marc Immerman, a principal at Metier’s Sustainable Capital practice, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Africa Ren management team and FMO in the Africa REN clean energy investment platform. Africa REN have demonstrated a pioneering ability to offer and deliver value-add clean energy projects to West African utilities and corporates. The opportunity to grow a cutting edge West African IPP that is poised to give exceptional returns and positive ESG impacts across the region is exciting.”

Paul Botha, the Metier CEO said, “As a firm Metier is proud of this transaction which further cements our ambition to evolve into a Pan-African private equity firm”. Metier’s Sustainable Capital practice is a clean infrastructure private equity fund manager with a mandate to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water and waste opportunities across Africa.

Quarter 3, 2021

Metier is happy to announce the sale of 360MW of wind assets to Revego Africa Energy Limited

Revego Africa Energy Limited (Revego), South Africa’s only yieldco geared towards the renewable energy sector through its investment in the Revego Africa Energy Fund, has acquired stakes in a number of leading wind assets, all of which are helping to build South Africa’s clean energy future.

The acquisitions include the Mainstream wind assets, Loeriesfontein 2 Wind Farm, Khobab Wind Farm and Noupoort Wind Farm, situated in the Northern Cape.

Loeriesfontein and Khobab (completed in December 2017) each have capacity of 140 MW and Noupoort (completed July 2016) has a capacity of 80 MW. The assets were built as part of Bid Window 3 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), led by sponsors Mainstream Renewables SA, a leading developer of wind and solar PV projects.

Eskom is the sole off-taker for all power produced by the three wind farms through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) as part of the REIPPP. The PPA is backed by the Government Support Framework Agreement (GSFA), whereby the South African government provides support to Eskom in an event of default.

Revego has purchased the wind assets from Metier, one of Africa’s leading private equity fund managers, and Lereko, who jointly manage the Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital fund. The acquisition fits in with Revego’s strategy of taking stakes in operational renewable energy assets in sub-Saharan Africa that have a track record of generating stable cash flows and that deliver an above-inflation dividend yield over an extended period.

Metier’s Sustainable Capital practice targets investments in energy efficiency, renewables, water and waste management businesses, as well as projects supporting Africa's development objectives and environmental commitments.

“We are pleased to have played a part in three of the largest wind assets in South Africa and their contribution to building a thriving renewable energy sector in the country” said John Hannig a principal in Metier’s Sustainable Capital practice.

Revego CEO Reyburn Hendricks says that collectively, the three wind farms generate clean renewable energy, supplying electricity to power up to 310,000 South African households, positively impacting the country’s economy and its people.

“As a renewable energy source, wind power generates zero carbon emissions and uses only a minimal amount of water, unlike traditional power stations. This makes it the perfect energy source for a region of the country that is characterised by high winds and arid conditions,” he explains.

In addition to the provision of electricity to households in their areas, the wind farms have also contributed to social and economic upliftment. “Local communities have a direct shareholding in the assets, while the wind farms also employ and train people from the community, helping to build a skill set in what is likely to be a growth industry in the future,” adds Hendricks.

“We are proud of the wind farm portfolio which together with our fellow shareholders Genesis evolved from development through to operations. This achievement is aligned with our objective of ensuring our investments generate additionality for both the environment and importantly local communities in remote areas where opportunities can be limited. We wish Revego the very best for the next chapter” said Marc Immerman, principal in Metier’s Sustainable Capital practice

Hendricks also points out that the wind assets directly address a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 13 (climate action).

“The investments therefore fulfil the environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements of our investor base,” notes Hendricks.

He adds that all three wind farms continued operating in full during the Covid-19 lockdowns, with staff following Covid-19 protocols. “Local healthcare centres have been able count on the essential power and water supplies provided by these assets, in order to treat patients during the third wave of the pandemic,” says Hendricks.

Metier-led consortium invests US$36 million into AMN to expand coverage in remote rural Africa A consortium led by Metier, an independent African private equity fund manager, has invested US$36 million into Africa Mobile Networks Ltd (“AMN”). The consortium includes CDC Group (the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor), DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (Germany's development finance institution), Proparco (the private sector arm of the French Development Agency), Mauritius Commercial Bank’s Equity division and other leading financial institutions and investment managers. As part of the transaction, the consortium is also acquiring US$3.5 million of existing shares and in total will own a significant minority shareholding in AMN.

AMN builds and operates mobile network base stations in partnership with tier-1 licensed mobile network operators such as MTN, Orange and Vodafone to extend their rural coverage. AMN provides a full turnkey NaaS (“Network as a Service”) approach to enable mobile network operators in sub-Saharan Africa to expand their coverage deep into rural areas – with no capital expenditure or operating equipment risk borne by the mobile operators in these remote locations. AMN currently operates circa 2,000 mobile network base stations in rural towns and villages across 10 countries, serving around 7 million people who were previously unconnected and processing 1.2 billion phone calls per annum.

AMN is currently the 5th-largest independent tower company operating in Africa, and growing rapidly. Following a 2020 acquisition of communications technology vendor Range Networks, based in Silicon Valley, California, AMN has also become an OEM and recently deployed its own OpenRAN-based equipment which is capable of offering integrated 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services from a single radio node.

The proceeds of the new growth equity from the Metier-led consortium will be used to fund AMN’s business from the current level of circa 2,000 towers across 10 countries to over 5,000 towers across more than 15 countries by end 2023. Metier is an independent private equity fund manager with a proven team and track record spanning four decades. Many of the consortium members have previously invested with Metier in either its growth or sustainable capital funds, and were collectively attracted to AMN’s high social and developmental impact in what is a relatively unserved rural market. AMN’s towers change peoples’ lives for the better through the time saving effects of being linked to a telecommunication network, and through the reduction of wasted frictional costs implied in living and working in rural areas.

Michael Darcy, CEO of AMN, said: “We are delighted to receive this significant new round of capital to fund the next phase of AMN’s growth and from such a prestigious partner as Metier, with its long track record of strong values and strong financial returns, backed by some of the world’s biggest development finance institutions. Working together with such heavyweight investors enables AMN to take a huge step forward in building many, many tens of thousands of towers across most of sub-Saharan Africa to connect and empower hundreds of millions of Africans who are disenfranchised today”.

Thierry Dalais, Chairman of Metier, said: “The AMN leadership team and its stakeholders have created an exceptional business. That we are able to assemble and lead a first class set of investors to bring more telecommunication connectivity to the unconnected at an affordable price, is doing good in our view. The AMN business today is evidence of great entrepreneurship, systems engineering skills, on the ground logistical execution capabilities, supported by the deep investment already made by others in telecommunication network connectivity industries. We wish the AMN leadership and management team continued support from its customers, and to AMN’s now enlarged stakeholder group, good long term returns.”

John Owers, Head of Mid/Large Funds at CDC Group, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Metier in supporting the continued growth of AMN. We were attracted by the combination of Metier’s successful track record of working with entrepreneurs in rapidly growing businesses, and the highly impactful nature of AMN’s business model. CDC’s patient and long-term capital will help to bring essential telecommunications services to previously unconnected parts of Sub-Saharan Africa – facilitating greater mobile connectivity, promoting social inclusion and enabling these communities to enhance their economic activities.”

Christof Gross, Vice President of DEG said: “We are impressed by AMN’s ability to roll out a rural connectivity solution that is centered on affordability for the end users while at the same time significantly de-risking rural coverage for telecom operators. DEG is confident that AMN will make a significant contribution to connecting the unconnected and we are proud to support the next expansion phase of the business alongside Metier and our consortium partners.”

“Investing in telecommunications and digital infrastructure is essential if we want to harness the potential of the fourth industrial revolution to create jobs and support sustainable development. Proparco is proud to team up with long-standing partners such as Metier, DEG, CDC and MCB, as well as with other leading investors, to contribute to AMN's efforts to expand coverage in remote rural areas of Africa" said Damien Braud, Proparco's Head of Private Equity for Africa and the Middle East.

Rony Lam, Chief Executive Officer of MCB Capital Markets said: "We are delighted to join this impressive group of investors in an important investment round for AMN. The company is a leader in connecting rural areas through mobile telecommunication, a critical enabler for mobilising resources and unlocking the full potential of remote communities. We look forward to supporting Metier and management in the company's next phase of development."

Quarter 2, 2021

Soon-to-be-listed Revego Africa Energy Limited invests in leading South African concentrated solar power plant

Revego Africa Energy Limited (Revego) has announced its first major acquisition, in the form of a 12% stake in the 50 MW Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) asset in the Northern Cape for R204 million.

Bokpoort CSP is one of South Africa’s premier CSP projects and fulfils Revego’s mandate of investing in operational, dividend-earning renewable assets. Revego is buying the stake from Metier, one of South Africa’s leading private equity firms, who manages the Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital fund.

Bokpoort CSP is a 50MW plant run as an independent power producer, with Saudi Arabian based ACWA Power International acting as the operational partner.

Bokpoort CSP was one of the first CSP projects in South Africa under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme. It is unusual among renewable energy projects in that it has significant energy storage onsite in the form of thermal salt storage. It recently became the first renewable facility in Africa to complete a full week of continuous operations, going on to run continuously for 13 days using its onsite storage. It also claimed the record as South Africa’s largest infrastructure refinancing transaction, of approximately R5bn.

Reyburn Hendricks, CEO of Revego, says the Bokpoort CSP acquisition is an important first step towards building the Revego portfolio. “The economics of the acquisition stack up well – Bokpoort CSP is backed by a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Eskom, supported by government guarantees, and with a power tariff indexed to the Consumer Price Index,” he argues. “Our investment team also has expertise in renewable energy acquisitions and the complexities of CSP technology.”

Hendricks adds that a major part of Revego’s strategy is to provide a viable option to early-stage investors in renewable projects. “These are investors whose investment objective have been achieved, such as private equity firms or sponsors looking for an exit, BEE investors looking to realise gains or redeploy capital, or REIPPP investors wanting to liquidate their holdings into cash or into a listed asset such as Revego,” he explains.

In this case, Metier was looking to realise its investment in a project in which it has been involved from the outset, from site identification through to successful operation. Partners Marc Immerman and Michael Goldblatt with Metier and Lereko and supported by the Industrial Development Corporation, initiated the Bokpoort CSP project and were active throughout the entire development, construction and operational periods.

This was part of Metier’s sustainable capital practice, which targets investments in energy efficiency, renewables, water and waste management businesses, as well as projects supporting Africa's development objectives and environmental commitments.

Goldblatt says Metier is proud of the role it has played in bringing Bokpoort CSP to where it is today. “In addition to a well-operated and significant renewable plant on the South African grid, we also leave a lasting legacy of extensive and successful socio-economic development programmes implemented in the local community, including a comprehensive youth centre, a farming ownership programme, school feeding vegetable gardens, and bursaries for local students amongst others. We are confident that Revego, alongside other shareholders, will continue to take the project from strength to strength.”

The Bokpoort CSP acquisition ahead of the listing of Revego on the JSE, has been funded through a bridge facility provided by Investec Bank. Investec is also a cornerstone investor in Revego, alongside UKCI, a joint venture between the Green Investment Group and the UK government and the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund.

Quarter 1, 2021

Metier Sustainable Capital Fund II, makes a substantial investment into Energy Vision to grow the provision of reliable, clean-energy, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions to powering telecom equipment for mobile network operators and telecom tower companies.

The partnering is centred around Energy Vision’s ambitions to increase its customer base and installed site portfolio, resulting in reduced reliance on carbon-based energy sources.

Energy Vision was founded in 2014 by a team of experienced telecom and infrastructure professionals, with a vision to pioneer the provision of bespoke clean and cost-effective energy solutions for telecom towers across Africa. The management team have decades of successful telecom experience in Africa and are well placed to deliver reliable energy efficient uptime, having signed the first contract of its type with Airtel in Gabon in 2015, delivering in excess of 99.99% telecom tower uptime. Energy Vision has subsequently benefitted from substantial growth having secured a material contract in Nigeria and continues to pursue opportunities spanning the continent.

Founded in 2003, Metier is an independent private equity fund manager with a proven track record spanning four decades. Metier’s Sustainable Capital practice has garnered significant traction since its inception in 2009. Building on the success of its predecessor Sustainable Capital Fund (the tenth pooled vehicle for the Metier team), Metier has to date received US$133 million in commitments to its second Sustainable Capital Fund (MSC II). MSC II will support renewable energy, energy efficiency, water and waste management investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.

MSC II Principal Marc Immerman said: “We look forward to working with the Energy Vision team to grow their business and add value. We have been following the telecom energy service sector for some time and are delighted to be partnering this pioneer and leading firm in this sector that provides positive substantial economic and environmental impacts not only reducing diesel consumption by around 70% but also maximising the renewable energy components of the systems”.

The CEO and founder of Energy Vision, Moshe Shushan said, “We are delighted to have Metier share our vision and goals, continuing our growth in the energy service sector, providing services to our customers’ full satisfaction, leveraging our vast experience in telecom operations, telecom integration and tower management”.
Licensed open access fibre network provider Frogfoot, a Vox Telecom company with over 15 years experience in the telecoms industry, has been named by MyBroadband as the Best Fibre Provider for 2020. The award reflects how well Frogfoot and Vox Telecom performed in the fibre space in 2020.

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