Gigawatt Global to build East Africa’s largest solar field

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Dutch company Gigawatt Global said on Monday it has broken ground on the largest solar energy field in East Africa after securing $23.7 million to build the 8.5 megawatt photovoltaic plant at a youth village in Rwanda.

Located 60 km (37 miles) outside the capital of Kigali, the solar field will increase Rwanda's power generation capacity by about 8 percent, said Yosef Abramowitz, Gigawatt president and CEO of Israeli affiliate Energiya Global that sourced the deal and provided seed money.

He said Gigawatt has a further $1 billion of projects in the pipeline for emerging markets.

"The deal (in Rwanda) itself is incredibly complex, the first field is always the hardest in any market," Abramowitz told reporters.

The money was raised from a group of equity investors and lenders, he said, and the government offered strong incentives for speed.

"They need energy quickly, they need energy reliably," said Chaim Motzen, Gigawatt Global managing director, adding that the project is expected to be online this summer.

The electricity will be fed into the national grid under a 25-year agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority, the company said, but would not disclose financial details of the deal.

The land for the solar field is leased from the Agahozo-Shalom youth village for orphans of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, it said.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch)

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