Gridworks wins bid to run Essor project in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Press Release

26 November 2020

Gridworks wins bid to run Essor project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Project will bring solar-powered electricity to hundreds of thousands of users.

Gridworks, the company set up to develop and invest in electricity networks across Africa, has today welcomed the announcement that a consortium it is leading has been appointed preferred bidder for the Essor A2E Initiative (“Essor”) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Essor is an ambitious program to build greenfield hybrid solar power generation and distribution projects in three cities in northern DRC (Gemena, Bumba and Isiro), each with a population of between 130,000 and 180,000.  These cities currently have no grid connection, and struggle to access reliable, affordable and clean power.  

Total capital requirements for the three sites will be around US$100 million which will be funded with a mixture of investment from the consortium led by Gridworks, debt provided by lenders including development finance institutions and capital grants from donors.

Gridworks’ consortium includes Eranove, a multi-utility company that operates power generation plants and utilities in a number of countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Togo, and AEE Power, a power developer and construction company with extensive and long-term activities in DRC.   

This is an important initiative from the Government of DRC in partnership with the UK Government.  It provides a replicable model with the scale and regulatory underpinning necessary to attract commercial investment in green field utilities in Africa. Distributed renewable energy projects like Essor operate using isolated local power grids which distribute power to homes and businesses from renewable sources such as solar and wind. They operate independently of the national grid.

Simon Hodson, Gridworks’ CEO, welcomed the announcement that Gridworks had been awarded preferred bidder status at a ceremony in Kinshasa this week attended by UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP and the Congolese Minister for Water and Energy Eustache Muhanzi. He said: 

“This Project will provide more reliable and affordable electricity in DRC, leading to economic growth and job creation, quality of life improvements and a cut in carbon emissions through the displacement of diesel generation. It will also bring power to hundreds of thousands of people who do not currently have an electricity connection.  

Simon Hodson added:

There is a serious lack of private sector capital allocated to DRC in general and to transmission & distribution infrastructure in particular, so we look forward to developing, investing and running the project alongside our consortium partners, AEE Power and Eranove, who have long experience of operating in African energy markets.

“Essor is a particularly important project because it provides the size and critical mass that is missing from most mini-grid models.  We expect that it will set an example to the industry that successful off-grid infrastructure requires scale in order to reduce operating costs; create efficiencies and ultimately attract investors. We look forward to doing more of this type of project across the continent.”

ENDS

Media contact:

Rhyddid Carter, rhyddid.carter@gridworkspartners.com +44 7543 500 456

Notes to Editors:

  1. Gridworks is a development and investment platform principally targeting equity investments in transmission, distribution and off-grid electricity in Africa. Backed by CDC Group, Gridworks develops and invests in critical power infrastructure, both on and off-grid. Gridworks is a developer, long-term investor and partner to governments, utilities, and companies in the power sector.
  2. Gridworks Development Partners LLP is a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales. Find out more at: www.gridworkspartners.com

Photo – from left to right:

DRC Government Minister, Eustache Muhanzi; Guy Martial Nezou (representing the Gridworks consortium); UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge MP; and UK Ambassador to the DRC, Emily Maltman. The photo was taken at an event held this week at the British Embassy in Kinshasa at which the decision to award the bid for the Essor project was announced.

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