A recent financing deal has cleared the way for progress on the Taiba Ndiaye wind power development in Senegal. The project reached financial close on 30 July, with construction scheduled to begin in the near future.
Operated by London-headquartered renewable energy company Lekela and sponsored by French developer Sarréole, the site when completed will generated 158 MW from 46 Vestas V-126 wind turbines, resulting in 450,000 MWh of energy per year and save more than 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Finance has come from a range of development finance sources including the United States government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Danish government’s Eksport Kredit Fonden (EKF), while the World Bank was involved through the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
Lekela is a joint venture between Irish renewable energy developer Mainstream and a private equity investor from the United Kingdom, Actis.
The chief operating officer of Lekela, Chris Ford, described the project as “a major milestone for Senegal, and for Lekela. As the first utility-scale wind power project in the country, Taiba N’Diaye forms a critical component of Senegal’s clean energy strategy”.
Chief executive Chris Antonopoulos said: “The demand for competitively-priced clean power is growing daily across the continent. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are quick to build and use natural resources that are abundant in many African countries, rather than relying on importing costly fossil fuels.”
He continued: “The challenge is bringing together the technical, financial and development expertise required to turn these opportunities into reality.”
Lekela is also involved in projects in Egypt, Ghana and South Africa. Both the company and Sarréole were advised by a Parisian team from international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF), led by partner Anne Lapierre, consisting of senior associate Marie Zelazko, of counsel Thomas Rabain and associate Adnen Ben Naser, with support from Amsterdam-based partner Wouter Hertzberger.
Lapierre, the global head of energy at NRF, said: “The Taiba Ndiaye project is a key achievement for Senegal,” adding that the firm was working in the service of “the country’s energy independence”.
With energy shortages posing a serious obstacle for industrial and economic development across Africa, and African governments seeking to diversify after four years of difficulties caused by the 2014 drop in oil and commodities prices, renewables has become an increasingly lively area of development in Africa.
That includes investment and an according rise in interest from international law firms in renewable energy expertise to serve projects, such as hydropower and wind developments in Uganda and Morocco. Senegal’s economic growth in recent years has made it a particularly appealing site.