AFC is currently working on a 80MW peat-fired power plant project in Rwanda, which will be the largest power plant in Rwanda, and also largest of its kind in Africa.
1) Let’s start with some background on Africa Finance Corporation and projects that you are involved in in Rwanda and in the region?
Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is an investment grade multilateral development finance institution established to help address Africa’s infrastructure needs, while seeking a competitive return for its shareholders. In this sense, AFC is a blend between an investment bank and a traditional DFI. AFC offers a unique value proposition as an Africa-focused multilateral financial institution covering three complementary service areas: project development, financial advisory and principal investing. AFC fills key market gaps by participating across the project lifecycle, ensuring that projects are well developed and structured, and transactions reach financial close.
AFC was established by an agreement among sovereign states in 2007, and is a joint venture between private (majority stake) and public investors, with an initial equity investment of circa US$1.1billion. Today, AFC has 14 member countries including Nigeria (host country), Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Chad, Cape Verde, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda and Djibouti. AFC has total assets of circa US$3.2Bn and has US$4.7Bn in approved financing assets, with US$3.8bn cumulative amount disbursed to date. AFC also has US$1.79bn in committed borrowing.
AFC has developed a strong expertise as a project developer in Africa and with sector focus spanning Oil and Gas, Power, Transport, Telecoms, Mining and Heavy Industry.
2) Any specific projects in Rwanda that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
AFC is currently working on a peat-fired power plant project in Rwanda. The 80MW peat-fired project will be the largest power plant in Rwanda, and also largest of its kind in Africa and will significantly increase the generating capacity in the country.
AFC is also discussing with relevant authorities regarding providing support for the new international airport being planned for development by the Government. This is a project that we’re particularly excited about.
3) What are the challenges to getting power projects off the ground in Rwanda?
The challenges faced in developing power projects in the country are similar to those in most African countries: (i) lack of adequate development capital to finance project development; and (ii) issues with currency depreciation and foreign exchange availability. The landlocked nature of the country also makes logistics a major issue for implementing power projects.
4) How investor friendly is the country?
We view Rwanda as an investor friendly destination, as evidenced by the country’s rank (66th out of 189 countries) in the World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business review. Coincidentally, the two areas where Rwanda suffered a setback in its ease of doing business are those mentioned above, viz. (i) access to electricity (the country is making progress in this regard and is expected to achieve energy self-sufficiency when most of the IPPs currently under development become operational and (ii) trading across borders (the country is landlocked and is dependent on its neighbours for land-based exports).
5) How excited are you about Rwanda as an investment destination?
We’re excited about Rwanda and we hope to increase our investments in the country both in the short and medium term.
6) You are a featured speaker in the programme at iPAD Rwanda during the session on “financial frameworks and tools enabling investment”. What will be your message at the event?
The current macroeconomic headwinds being faced by many African countries have created even more challenges with respect to the development and financing of infrastructure projects. The message would be looking at different frameworks and potential tools to mitigate the risks and cope with the challenges relating to making infrastructure investments.