London, England — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 10 December 2010 – A newly-formed biomass producer and exporter, Africa Renewables Limited (AfriRen), has entered into a long-term commercial agreement with GREL “’ a subsidiary of the top West African agro-industrial group SIFCA.

SIFCA is the leading African agri-business group in the region, employing 21 000 people and with a turnover of €600 million (R5.7 billion)..

Revealing the new development in a statement issued here, AfriRen said its partnership was the first between a London-based biomass producer and exporter and an African agro-industrial company, and would see US$16 million (R110 million) worth of initial investment. The deal positioned AfriRen as a platform to access European biomass buyers, and cemented London’s place as a world centre for renewable energy start-ups.

AfriRen would then be the first British biomass company to harness the energy potential of Africa and would triple SIFCA’s African biomass exports in the next five years.

AfriRen has also partnered with Throgmorton UK Limited (Throgmorton), the financial and administrative outsourcing firm which helped structure the innovative new company in the UK. Throgmorton will assist in implementing robust financial and administrative processes for AfriRen’s UK head office operations from day one.

The statement added that almost all biomass currently imported into the EU came from the Americas, so this partnership would break new ground in connecting successful African businesses to European energy firms. AfriRen would develop renewable energy projects in Africa in line with latest technology, economic trends and with utmost respect for the environment and local communities.

High-quality, traceable biomass is now a must for the major power companies as they look to meet EU requirements to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. AfriRen, which aims to become the biggest biomass producer in Africa, expects to export 120 000 tonnes of woodchips per year from 2011 onwards from its operations in Ghana alone. The woodchips will meet the European standards for biomass quality specifications and sustainability.

AfriRen’s 8-year agreement with GREL covers the extraction and export of woodchip biomass from their rubber tree plantation near Takoradi. Investment in a complete Ghanaian logistics chain and in a new pellet plant will total US $16 million over 8 years. The project will look to treble the company’s African exports in five years.

The company was founded earlier this year by managing director and senior energy trader Jean-François Guillon, who has over 25 years of experience in commodities and energy trading.

His partner and chief operating officer is Sonia Medina, who has a strong background in the international greenhouse gas mitigation market. She worked for Eco Securities, one of the largest carbon offset project developers in the world, and at the United Nations.