Financing the Transition to Renewable Energy

The rise of renewable is no news; but the transition is not so clear for many actors in the sector, both enthusiasts and those impacted by the shift. Harvard Business Review has recently been looking deeper into the question of financing  the transition to renewable energy from two different perspectives: coal workers and industrial firms.

What If All U.S. Coal Workers Were Retrained to Work in Solar?

Young coal workers, in particular, should consider retraining for a job in solar now. In fact, Research from Oregon State University suggests most coal workers should start thinking about retraining now.

The study quantified the costs and benefits of retraining such workers in solar technology and explores different alternatives to finance the shift. It identifies four different ways of financing such a shift from individual funding options, company sponsored retraining, state driven programmes and federal government initiatives.

It concludes that in general after retraining, most technical workers would make more in the solar industry than previously in coal because there is a wide variety of employment opportunities in the solar industry, and that the annual pay is attractive at all levels of education, with even the lowest skilled jobs paying a living wage.

 

How Industrial Firms Invest in Renewable Energy, Affordably

Big companies have been buying a lot of clean energy;  but making it work in terms of costs and accounting can be a hurdle for industrial companies. HBR draws lessons from Owens Corning execs and how they laid out the strategy to get over the hurdles that industrial companies face when investing in renewable energy in order to add value  to the company, and the environment.

Ghana Capital Partners is Awarded Best African Focused Private Equity Firm 2016

Ghana Capital Partners  is pleased to announce that it has been awarded Best African Focused Private Equity Firm 2016 at the Wealth and Finance International Awards.

GCP award

The awards celebrate top performing businesses, individuals and departments on today’s fund landscape. These Awards highlight the game changing methods and stunning results achieved across the industry. The final winners were chosen by a combination of votes gathered from industry partners and in-house research carried out by Wealth and Finance International.

 

Ghana Capital Partners 28MW solar PV project awarded runners-up at 2nd West Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing (WAFCEF 2) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Sidney Yankson (right), founder of Ghana Capital Partners with Akinwumi Adesina (left), President of African Development Bank, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire     Sidney Yankson (left), founder of Ghana Capital Partners receiving his award from senior members of the African Development Bank, namely Mulu Ketsela, Ronald Meyer, Rafique J. Mahomed, Abidjan, Côte d'IvoireSidney Yankson, Ghana Captial Partners (right) at WAFCEF-2 with Albert Boateng (left) of CTI-PFAN, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire        Sidney Yankson, Ghana Capital Partners presenting to the judges and delegates at Africa Energy Week, African Development Bank, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

 

Finalists of WAFCEF-2, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Ghana Capital Partners (“GCP”)  was awarded the runners-up prize in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 17 September 2015, at the West Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing (WAFCEF-2).

Jointly organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) / Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and the Climate Technology Initiative – Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI P-FAN), the second West Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing (WAFCEF-2) business plan competition took place at AfDB Abidjan headquarters, September 17, 2015 as part of the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy & Investment High Level Forum.

The GCP project was the only project from Ghana to be included as a finalist. The other projects were from all over West Africa, including Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.

Founder of GCP, Sidney Yankson said, “It was a great honour to represent Ghana at this event. Yesterday at the Energy Week Forum we heard Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, the Prime Minister of Benin  and the Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo all share their support and vision for renewable energy as a key part of Africa’s future. It was great to be a part of that.”

GCP’s ground mounted 28MW solar PV project will provide much needed electricity to Ghana and will produce enough power annually to power 200,000 homes. This will raise one million (1,000,000) people out of energy poverty. The project will also reduce green house gas (carbon offset) emissions by 18,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per annum for the 25 years of the plant.

Alex Deprez, regional director of USAID said that together with Power Africa, USAID was happy to support clean energy projects in the region.

For more information, see:

WAFCEF-2

Energy Week, Abidjan, 14-18 September 2015

About SEFA

SEFA is a USD 90 million multi-donor facility funded by the governments of Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States. It supports the sustainable energy agenda in Africa through: grants to facilitate the preparation of medium-scale renewable energy generation and energy efficiency projects; equity investments to bridge the financing gap for small- and medium-scale renewable energy generation projects; and support to the public sector to improve the enabling environment for private investments in sustainable energy. SEFA is hosted by the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department of the AfDB.

About ECREEE

ECREEE is a specialised agency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which acts as an independent body, within the legal, administrative and financial framework of ECOWAS rules and regulations. The overall objective of ECREEE is to contribute to the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of West Africa by improving access to modern, reliable and affordable energy services, energy security and reduction of energy-related GHG emissions and climate change impacts on the energy system.

About CTI PFAN

CTI PFAN is a multilateral, public-private partnership initiated by CTI in cooperation with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Expert Group on Technology Transfer.

 

Ghana Capital Partners shortlisted for second West Africa Clean Energy Finance Forum (WAFCEF-2) in Accra, Ghana, 25 March 2015

CTI-pfan

Ghana Capital Partners was shortlisted from 50 applicants to participate in the second West Africa Clean Energy Finance Forum (WAFCEF-2).

The WAFCEF-2 partners include the Climate Technology Initiative Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI PFAN), Regional Clean Energy Investment Initiative (RCEII) together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), Banque ouest africaine de développement (BOAD), and the African Biofuels and Renewable Energy Company (ABREC), which is affiliated with the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID).

The purpose of the forum is to reach out and attract potential start-ups and existing companies with promising clean energy projects. West African businesses selected through the Business Plan Competition will receive free mentoring to help them polish their business plans, develop convincing investment pitches, and formulate a commercially, financially, socially and environmentally viable growth strategy that in turn will significantly enhance the possibility of obtaining financing.

Albert Boateng, regional co-ordinator for West Africa, opened the session in Accra today and said the standard of applicants was high.

GCP founder Sidney Yankson presented GCPs 28MW solar PV project to the workshop. The GCP project once constructed will provide much needed power to the Ghana electricity distributor, Electricity Company of Ghana, for 200,000 homes.

The project is set to provide 42 GWhr/year of energy and create at least 20 jobs.

Sidney Yankson of GCP said, “We are keen to get the project off  the ground. The rolling blackouts in Ghana are probably reducing the countries output by 1% of GDP per ann.”

About the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA): SEFA is a multi-donor facility to support the sustainable energy agenda in Africa, operating through three components: (i) grants to facilitate the preparation of medium-scale renewable energy generation and energy efficiency projects (ii) equity investments to bridge the financing gap for small- and medium-scale renewable energy generation projects and; (iii) support to public sector in improving the enabling environment for private investments in sustainable energy. SEFA is endowed with US $60 million from the Governments of Denmark and United States and hosted by the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department of the AfDB.

CTI-PFAN WAFCEF workshop - Accra, Ghana - 25 Mar 2015      CTI PFAN workshop, Accra, Ghana - 25 March 2015

 

GCP Solar appointed as official solar light supplier to Asa Baako Music Festival, Western Region, Ghana – 4 to 6 March 2015

 

In UN’s Year of Light, GCP Solar has been appointed the official solar light supplier to the Asa Baako Music Festival in Ghana, 4 March 2015.

In a sign of their commitment to helping reduce energy poverty and provide sustainable light, GCP Solar has partnered with the organisers of Asa Baako Music festival to distribute solar lights and solar mobile phone chargers at the festival over the independence day weekend in Ghana.

Asa Baako was launched in March 2011, in the spectacular fishing village of Busua in Ghana’s Western Region. It was here, where festival organisers from the UK and Ghana, joined together with local residents, to create a 2-day celebration of local arts and culture. Since then, Asa Baako has grown from one stage and a few hundred people, to a programme featuring the now legendary Jungle party, beach parties and a weekend of activities from surfing, art exhibitions, treks, tours, yoga, cinema for an audience of over 2,000 people.

Mr. Kofi Debrah of the Asa Baako organising committee said. “We are delighted to appoint GCP Solar as our sole solar light distributor. It is great that we can provide access to light for the 100 or so of the festival attendees that will be sleeping in tents. Also, there are many more coming from remote villages that also do not have lights.”

Mr. Sidney Yankson, founder of GCP Solar said, “ GCP Solar is happy to support this great festival of music and arts. Our solar light supplier, Nokero, has a distinguished track record in supporting the arts as they supported the Power The World concert a few years back during which Linkin Park performed. GCP Solar is looking forward to developing a long-term relationship with the festival.”

About GCP Solar

GCP Solar is a leading solar company in Africa. GCP Solar is a distributor of hand-held solar lanterns and roof top solar systems. Our aim is to provide safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly light solutions to the 400 million people living in Africa without light. In Ghana up to 5 million people (approximately 30% of the population) do not have access to the main power grid.

GCP Solar is a distributor of the Nokero® suite solar products, such as hand-held solar lights and mobile phone chargers.

About UN’s Year of Light

On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the UN has recognised the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century.

(Learn more at www.light2015.org)

About Asa Baako

Asa Baako is a music and arts festival in Western Ghana.

(Learn more at www.asabaako.com)

Didier Drogba – Ivory Coast and Chelsea with his N200

Linkin Park – Power the World – N200

 

Sidney Yankson (CEO) attends a special presentation by the African Development Bank, the African Economic Outlook 2014, at New York University

Sidney Yankson (CEO) was invited to attend a special presentation by the Africa Development Bank (ADB) on 13 October 2014. The main theme of the evening was the global value chains and Africa’s industrialisation.

The event took place at New York University Africa House an interdisciplinary institute devoted to the study of contemporary Africa, focusing on economic, political, and social issues on the continent. The Africa Development Bank was founded in 1964 and has fifty-three African country shareholders. Their mission is to promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty in Africa.

Sidney commented that, “The ADB’s report provides a fantastic overview of the opportunities in Africa today.  Most of the countries they review have projected annual GDP growth in excess of 7%. That is phenomenal.

The ADB suggested that there are challenges to overcome, but in the long term African countries and companies will prevail.

The NYU professor suggested that Africa is resilient and will bounce back from the current Ebola crisis.

Therefore, the future looks bright, but there will be challenges.”

Besides the ADB special presentation, Sidney has attended a few other conferences whilst in New York and Washington. On 15 October Sidney was at a meeting in Washington DC discussing commercially operating minigrid systems with the US State Department, USAID, World Bank and the UN Foundation. The meeting allowed participants to recap on the High Impact Opportunity initiatives, membership and co-ordination. There were discussions about focusing on High Impact Initiatives and the upcoming input from DFID, African Development Bank and the World Bank.

Sidney will attend a further event on the 16-17 October that will comprise of a workshop focusing on proven private sector business models that are already in operation and leading the way in mini-grid development.

Ghana thinks big on small-scale solar

For almost five decades, hydroelectric power from the Volta region has been Ghana’s energy backbone, while the nascent oil and gas industry has recently risen up the agenda. But solar power could play an increasingly important role.

With over 5 million households off-grid, market potential for solar energy in Ghana is calling investors’ attention to expand mini-grids in rural and peri-urban areas.

Yet, business sustainability and return on investments remain question marks despite the attractive legal framework which followed Ghana’s Renewables Energy Act 2011. To date, modalities to offset feed-in tariffs are still unclear while doubts continue to cast over the capacity of Electricity Company of Ghana (the national electricity off-taker) to pay independent power producers (IPPs).
Some industry actors are however hopeful. Sidney Yankson, CEO of the Africa focused private equity boutique Ghana Capital Partners (GCP), currently developing a 28MW solar power plant (costing $56million), does not deny these arguments but remains strongly confident in advocating for solar. He told Africa Energy that solar energy is becomingly increasingly viable from a financial perspective also in Ghana, “both for commercial and residential purposes. The price of solar PV panels keeps decreasing and the appeal of a reliable energy source, powered by the sun, whose installation price will decrease – unlike the conventional electricity – cannot be underestimated.
Click here to read the full article.

Why Impact Investments will ensure a brighter future for Africa

Identifying the worlds most pressing issues can be a challenge. At GCP Solar we focus on providing safe and sustainable light solutions to the 400 million people living in Africa without light. The Head of Impact Investing Initiatives at the World Economic Forum (May 2014), Abigail Noble discussed the challenges of impact investments. Currently the average private equity deal is around US$36m and the average investment impact deal is around US$2m. For private equity firms to fully engage in impact investing it costs more to do. There is the bottom line measuring their fiscal performance financial profit, and then the second bottom line measuring the performance in the terms of positive social impact. Moreover, as the size of the deal is smaller, more consideration is needed in the terms of fee structures and due diligence.

Should impact investors anticipate market returns? Yes – a range of returns can be expected such as patient capital, whereby an investor will be willing to make a financial investment in a business with no expectation of turning a quick profit, substantial rewards will come further down the road. The Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of poverty, are cautious about stating that they’re opting for the long-view, some investors only make 0-1% returns. Impact private equity firms like LeapFrog make +20% quartile of returns. Leapfrog invests for the NextBillion, investing in high-growth companies in Africa and Asia, as well as delivering financial services to emerging consumers. These investors need to consider their priorities in the terms of social impact and legacy; are there equity needs in the short-term? Or can a longer perspective be taken?

One could then argue that if impact investments focus more on financial returns, could less profitable investments with strong social impacts be left behind? Noble argues that there is a risk. Given positive selection bias impact investment deals that target the highest returns will receive the most capital and the most effective investors in juxtaposition with those with lower returns. Noble describes how philanthropic capital and development is integral, once investors start to realise that targeting social and environmental returns can actually boost and make more long-run, stable, financial returns. For example, when looking at climate change, the Arab Spring, social unrest, youth unemployment or social inclusion, these can all affect the financial market. By the by, the more stability in social or political institutions, the better the business climate. Noble indicates that the “real way” to create a stable market economy would be to focus on social and financial returns in the long-run. GCP and GCP Solar’s basic focus towards Africa and African investments identifies that investments are long-term opportunities as well as a socially responsible and ethical investments.

GCP Solar’s Pilot Project in Tamale, Northern Ghana

In conjunction with Just Shea, GCP Solar distributed 384 solar lanterns to two off-grid lighting communities in Northern Ghana. These are rural areas with no current access to safe light or electricity.

GCP Solar is a distributor of the market leading Nokero® suite of solar products, such as hand-held solar lights and mobile phone chargers. A majority of the population currently use candles or kerosene to produce  light, these can have detrimental affects to their health as well as the environment.

Sidney Yankson (CEO, GCP Solar) ran one-to-one or group sessions teaching the Shea women, with an interpreter, about how to use their purchased solar lanterns. The solar lanterns were a part of their safety kit provided by Just Shea. After returning at nightfall, the feedback was already highly positive. Not only does this provide a safer and sustainable solution to bad lighting, the women actually saved extra money through buying the product. Many of them were pleased that their children could now do their homework after sundown.

The shea women collect shea nuts in remote areas in Northern Ghana. Shea butter is a popular type of moisturiser exported all over the world. 1 million women a year get bitten by snakes when picking the nuts, however now, thanks to their safety kit and solar lanterns, this figure may now be curbed. The Government of Ghana is hoping for 5GW of total power in the country in the years to come. Furthermore, they anticipate that a high proportion of this will come from renewable energy sources.

Bloomberg Philanthropies $5m impact investment into Little Sun, creators of solar-powered lamps

The former New York Mayor, Mike Bloomberg announced Bloomberg Philanthropies would make its first ever impact investment of $US5m into Little Sun, creators of solar lanterns in the off-grid lighting population in Africa. The ‘Little Sun’, is a solar-powered LED lamp developed by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and created by engineer Frederik Ottesen, it provides safe and affordable light and hopes to replace kerosene as the favoured light source in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The impact investment will be by way of a low interest loan to enable Little Sun to expand its efforts to distribute its portable solar-powered lamps.

The Little Sun is an artistic looking light, the flower-shaped lamp that includes a 6cm by 6cm single cell mono-crystalline solar module, and when utilized in substitution to kerosene lights it also helps keep the environment safer.

Kerosene is not only expensive, costing about 20% of the average person’s income to maintain, but also demonstrated to have highly negative affects to users health and the environment. Incidentally, inhaling four hours worth of kerosene fumes is equivalent to smoking forty cigarettes.

The Little Sun lamp is currently available to be purchased in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving.

To read more about little sun please press here, or Bloomberg Philanthropies press here.

KKR to invest $US200m in Ethiopian rose business

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) is the latest large firm to recently announce a sizeable investment into an African enterprise, Afriflora, a rose business based in Ethiopia. The $US200m investment marks the private equity firms first ever deal on the continent.

The macro story behind Africa is certainly an appealing one; the current milieu is likely to see dramatic growth over the next decade. Moreover, it appears now to be uncommon to encounter a private equity LP that hasn’t contemplated a new Africa fund, there is definite scope for potential high growth on returns.

However, Swiss asset manager and academic, Cyril Demaria, argues that there is no indication that LPs can earn the sort of upside most of them anticipate from African markets. Demaria denotes how there are gross overestimations of returns; similarly Goldmans Sachs warns investors ought to be conscious of the possibility for underperformance in the market.

Ultimately, some may argue that those who invest in African enterprises need to reconsider the inherent risks of the markets and lower their return expectations. However, a focus on returns alone and their latent capacity for volatility and the unknown does not depict the GCP story. GCP and GCP Solar’s basic focus towards Africa and African investment identifies that investments are long-term opportunities, with the early move advantage as well as a socially responsible and ethical investment.

For more information about Afriflora please press here.

Solar vs. Coal? Solar’s the shining winner. Coal has burnt out…

It has been predicted by 2018, solar could be the most economically feasible source to power big cities. By 2040, +50% of all electricity may be produced in the same place it’s used.

In Queensland last week, for the first time ever, the wholesale price of electricity plummeted into negative territory by the mid-afternoon. Normally at this time, prices are around $NZ40-$50 a megawatt hour, however this figure remained at the value of $0. Prices stayed deflated throughout the week, rooftop solar is believed to be responsible for this. Rooftop solar is one of the newest and biggest power stations in the country. The recent influx of rooftop solar is having grave affects on wholesale prices of power.

Coal will never be free, rooftop solar has been labelled as the democratisation of energy. The next move would be for households and businesses to completely disassociate from the grid, this is a terrifying prospect for coal generators. It is unclear how centralised, fossil-fuel generation, can adapt in an energy democracy.

GCP Solar recognises that West Africa benefits from high levels of solar irradiation. Currently the distribution of handheld solar lanterns is underway in rural villages in Northern Ghana, the GCP Solar team comments that the impacts already seem highly positive. These rooftop solar systems, set to be distributed by GCP Solar,  will provide significant benefits to the users, such as flexible financing to their customers and reliable and clean technology. This coming September, Sidney Yankson (CEO) will be speaking at the West Africa Conference in Ghana. He will discuss the possibilities for renewable technologies in the sub-region encouraging growth and development and a brighter future for Africa.

For the full Guardian Article press here.

U.S set to invest up to US$498 Million in Ghana’s Electricity Network

Bloomberg announced on 4 August that the U.S is set to invest as much as $498.2 million, over an initial five year period, to improve Ghana’s electricity network. This is part of an effort to encourage private investment and help the West African nation become a regional energy hub.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S agency focusing on foreign aid, it will provide $308.2 million to enhance generators and power lines in the region. If certain targets are met in Ghana, a further $190 million will be made available, which the government corporation didn’t specify.

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama described how “energy is increasingly becoming a constraint to growth in Africa”. He is currently attending the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. Fifty African leaders have been invited to the White House by Barack Obama to discuss investing into the Sub-Saharan continent. The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hopes to unlock opportunities, stimulate growth and create an enabling environment for the next generation in Africa.

Ghana plans to invest $37.4 million of its own fund in the power initiative, which Millennium Challenge said will help generate more than $4 billion in the nations energy sector. These ideals embody the mission of GCP Solar, to help spread sustainable energies and provide energy security to those at the base of the pyramid. Through establishing investments in the energy sector this will hopefully nudge African governments in other areas such as human rights, such as girls, women and gays establishing good governance. Similarly GCP Solar hopes having access to safe lighting will help businesses prosper and enable personal development.

For the full article please press here

Sidney Yankson lectures Cambridge Africa Business Network on Private Equity Opportunities in Africa

Cambridge Africa Business Network

Cambridge Africa Business Network

Ghana Capital Partners (“GCP”) CEO, Sidney Yankson, recently delivered a presentation on the opportunities for investors in Africa, with a particular focus on private equity. Presenting at the Judge Business School on Trumpington Street in Cambridge, Mr. Yankson’s presentation was simultaneously broadcast live via an online webinar.

His presentation covered such topics as best sectors for growth, ethics of investing in Africa and how to deal with corruption.

This presentation was one of a series of expert presentations at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge.

The Webinar details can be found here and the recorded presentation together with questions and answers can be found by clicking here.

Standard Chartered invests US$50 million into Botswana FMCG company

Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) has acquired 13% of Botswana-based consumer goods retailer Choppies Enterprises – through a Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) deal.

The deal value has not been disclosed but is estimated at about $50million – and is understood to be  Botswana’s largest private equity transaction, historically.

The deal closed at the end of 2013, and was sourced proprietorially – with Choppies being a client of Standard Chartered Bank. Choppies is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange.

SCPE’s investment will fund the company’s growth plans, which include expanding its foot print across Southern Africa.  Part of the company’s plan is to grow its South African stores to about 80, from the current 23.

The company is working towards having about 40% of its revenues come from South Africa. Sales in South Africa are set to be boosted by a dedicated distribution centre, opened  in 2012.

Choppies has also recently expanded in Zimbabwe – acquiring a chain of 10 stores, and a distribution facility. In Botswana, the company is estimated to hold over 30% share of the retail market in the country’s Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) space.

Headquartered in Gaborone, Choppies retails FMCG products through more than 100 stores across Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The company was founded in 1986 and employs more than 10,000 people

Choppies reported profits before tax of approximately $23million (P198million) for the full year up to June 2013, a 27% year-on-year growth. Its revenue for 2013 stood at about $471million, growing about 22% from 2012.