GreenWish Partners, a Paris-based investment company focused on renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa, plans to build two solar plants in northern Nigeria with a total capacity of 100 megawatts.
The construction of the two 50 megawatts facilities will start next year and is expected to cost $130 million to $150 million, Chief Executive Officer Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian said in a telephone interview from the French capital.
One of the plants will be located in Kaduna state, she said, declining to mention where the second site would be.Both plants will be connected to the national grid, she said.
“Nigeria is a very interesting market as it presents all the characteristics we’re looking for with regard to energy,” Aubin-Kalaidjian said.
“There’s a high dependence on fuel oil and diesel, which are expensive and unreliable sources of energy, and there’s a political will to develop solar energy, especially in the northern regions where gas is less available.”
Africa’s most populous nation has seen its production of crude, the main foreign-exchange earner, plunge after repeated attacks on key installations by militants in southern oil-producing Niger River delta.
The supply of gas, which is the source of about 80% of electricity in Nigeria, has also been affected, slashing an already insufficient output to 1,000 megawatts in May and battering an economy hit by falling oil prices.
Turning to alternatives sources, Nigeria aims to get 50% of its energy from renewables, including solar power, by 2020, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said in August.
GreenWish is also developing off-grid solar projects for businesses based in the West African nation, including for a banking network of 350 units and 2,000 telecom towers, Aubin-Kalaidjian said.
The company will inaugurate a 20 megawatts plant in northern Senegal on Oct. 22, the nation’s first industrial-sized solar plant. The station, built by Vinci SA, required an investment of 26 million euros ($28.6 million) and will provide electricity to 160,000 people through the national grid.
The plants in Senegal and Nigeria are part of GreenWish’s plan to develop 600 megawatts of renewable energy assets in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 for an estimated cost of $1 billion, Aubin-Kalaidjian said. In June, U.S. private-equity firm Denham Capital committed as much as $250 million of investment to GreenWish.
The company has also on-grid and off-grid projects in Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, Aubin-Kalaidjian said. The group is looking into opportunities in Kenya where it plans to open an office, she said.
“Solar is easy to replicate, it’s more competitive than fuel oil in isolated sites. We believe there’s a potential of rapid expansion but the governments need to set up an adequate regulatory and contractual framework,” Aubin-Kalaidjian said. “Solar power will not solve all of Africa’s electricity problems but can do for a good part of it.”