Yingli Solar
The competition received 55 submissions from project originators in 18 countries across Africa in range of renewable energy technologies including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and biomass.

On Wednesday, Access Infra Africa (Access) officially announced the joint winners of the inaugural Access Co-Development Fund (ACF), naming Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon in shared first place.

Winners of the $5 million [ZAR62 million] competition are set to bridge the gap between early-stage African renewable energy projects and the expertise and funding they require to become operational.

The winning projects

Flatbush Solar and Quaint Solar Energy will enter into a Joint Development Agreement with Access. Under this agreement, Access will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and other due diligence fees. Access will also support Flatbush Solar and Quaint Solar Energy with technical support, financial structure and development process management.

Quaint Solar Energy’s winning ABIBA Solar Project is a 50MW solar development that will utilize photovoltaic technology. The project aims to add to Nigeria’s current power output and help to bridge the power deficit faced by the nation.

The winning Maroua Solar Project by Flatbush Solar in Cameroon is a 20MW solar fixed ground mount photovoltaic plant, designed to serve the energy needs of the city of Maroua and neighbouring towns and villages.

Other shortlisted projects include a 20MW photovoltaic plant by Ada Solar Energy in Ghana and a 10MW solar plant by Wagonanze Investments in Tanzania.

Judging and criteria

A panel of experts judged the projects during a session at the annual Africa Energy Forum last week in Dubai, with the criteria based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and the project team.

Reda El Chaar, Chairman of Access Power MEA, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to partner with two projects that will undoubtedly have a positive social and economic impact in their respective regions, and we look forward to working closely with them as they progress towards becoming operational.”

“The ACF was extremely successful in its first year, receiving over 55 submissions in less than two months; a remarkable feat which in many ways reflects the potential of renewable energy across Africa. I am confident that the competition will gain more momentum in the years to come”, he added.

Word from the winners

Seun Solesi, Director at Quaint Solar Energy, said: “We are delighted to partner with Access Infra Africa to develop the ABIBA Solar project in Nigeria. Their funding, technical support and guidance will undoubtedly play a key role in bringing the project to fruition and creating significant benefit for all our stakeholders.”

Samuel Tesfaye, Managing Director of Flatbush Solar, said: “Through this win, the Maroua Solar Project will be able to boost electricity supply to Maroua and its neighbouring villages in Cameroon. We are pleased that Access Infra Africa recognizes the importance of providing funding and technical expertise to early-stage projects within the renewable energy sector in Africa.”

The inaugural ACF that was launched in April 2015 received 55 submissions from project originators in 18 countries across Africa, including Cape Verde, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania. The submissions covered a range of renewable energy technologies including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and biomass.