Rwanda Project News

Download PDF: 20140217_Gigawatt Global Rwanda release - Feb-17-2014


17 February 2014

Construction Begins on East Africa’s First Utility-Scale Solar Field
Breakthrough project “a game-changer for humanity and the environment”

Dutch solar developer Gigawatt Global Coöperatief successfully closed on $23.7 million in financing on an 8.5 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant from an international consortium of equity investors and debt providers including Norwegian development finance institution Norfund, Norwegian-headquartered Scatec Solar, Dutch development bank FMO and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF).  The project, East Africa’s first utility-scale solar field, will increase the country’s power generation capacity by approximately 8%.

FMO arranged the senior debt package for the Rwanda project. The other senior lender is EAIF. Norfund provided a mezzanine loan and equity.  Scatec is the lead equity investor and is serving both as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) provider.

The PV plant will be located 60 km from the capital of Kigali on land belonging to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) for youth orphaned during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The electricity will be fed into the national grid under a 25 year power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA). Construction has already started and commercial operation of the solar field is expected by summer of 2014.

“It takes a global village to raise a solar revolution,” said American-Israeli entrepreneur and human rights activist Yosef Abramowitz, President of Gigawatt Global and CEO of Energiya Global Capital, Gigawatt’s Israeli affiliate that provided seed money and strategic guidance for the project. “There are 550 million people in Africa without electricity. Economic growth in developing markets depends on access to affordable, green power.  Environmentally-friendly solar energy is far less expensive than diesel-generated power. This first-ever utility-scale solar field in Rwanda – and all of East Africa – represents the future of energy for developing countries and for island nations. It is a game-changer for humanity and the environment.”

The Rwanda Minister of State in Charge of Energy and Water, Eng. Emma Francoise Isumbingabo said, “Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is important for the Government of Rwanda. This initiative to produce 8.5 megawatts is a good addition towards closing the current energy gap.”

With limited power generation capacity, the Government of Rwanda has introduced an aggressive plan to boost the nation’s generation capacity. The objective is for 50% of the population to have access to electricity by 2017.

This complex project, completed in record time, was developed from concept stage to financial close by Chaim Motzen, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global. “Recognizing the energy imperative in Rwanda, we worked closely with the Government of Rwanda to execute quickly and effectively,” said Motzen. “We hope this initiative serves as a catalyst for future sustainable energy projects in the region. This could not have been completed without our project partners including Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Norton Rose Fulbright, Norfund, Scatec Solar, FMO and EAIF. SEDI Labs, led by Raffi Mardirosian, served as a key project development partner from the project’s inception.”

The project by Dutch-based Gigawatt Global was partially funded through grants from the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP), a partnership of the British, Finnish and Austrian governments and the United States Government via the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC) ACEF Grant.

“OPIC is proud to have played a catalyzing role in this pioneering African solar project. The support provided through OPIC's Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) program helped Gigawatt Global  through its crucial development stage, when capital was needed to advance the project quickly and prove the project's viability to investors,” said Lynn Tabernacki, OPIC’s Managing Director for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development. “This project also proves the value of OPIC's participation in the innovative ACEF and Power Africa initiatives, through which we support multiple similar projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Norton Rose Fulbright provided exceptional legal support to the project. Simon Currie, global head of energy for Norton Rose Fulbright, personally oversaw the team for the project and was supported by senior associate Laura Kiwelu. The firm’s extensive energy project finance expertise and practical approach was critical in ensuring a feasible and bankable project. Norton Rose Fulbright made a substantial financial contribution to the project as part of its commitment to developing countries and strong CSR policy.

Reflecting its dedication to helping heal the world, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village fostered the development of a solar field, located on Village property, that will generate enough electricity to contribute to a roughly 8 percent increase in the country’s electricity supply. ASYV is leasing land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village's charitable expenses.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres commented about the project’s location, which was modeled after post-Holocaust Israeli orphan villages, “As a pioneer in its sector and region, the solar field to be established in the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is an important stride in our mission for Tikkun Olam – making the world a better place. This wonderful initiative will serve as a shining beacon of hope and progress for humanity, and as an example of what Israel can contribute to the developing world. In the hope that Israeli renewable energy expertise can continue to serve developing communities around the world, I wish the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village much success on behalf of the State of Israel.”

“Anne Heyman, our Founder of blessed memory, held to a vision in which the village practiced tikkun olam, the Jewish teaching to help heal the world. In addition to our work with Rwanda's most vulnerable children, we're now helping to improve the lives of thousands of people through sustainable electricity generation,” said Laurie Toll Franz, ASYV's newly elected Board Chair.
Trust Law Chambers, a local Rwandan law firm, provided critical on-the-ground legal support for the project. I&M Bank Rwanda is serving as Onshore Security Agent, and Bank of New York Mellon is serving as Offshore Security Agent.  Astrom Technical Advisors, S.L. (ATA) served as technical advisor.  Trevor Green of Remote Partners serves as local project manager.

Alluding to future Gigawatt Global solar projects in development, Abramowitz said, “The human race bears a moral and practical imperative to provide power for all, while also transitioning from burning fossil fuels to harnessing renewables. The Rwanda solar field serves as a proof-of-concept to successfully develop and finance commercial-scale solar fields throughout Africa and in the developing world. It will be the first in a series of large fields we are planning in the coming 24 months.”

For interviews and additional information, please contact:
Rafi Fischer
Lone Star Communications – Jerusalem
+972 54-325-8380

Gigawatt Global Coöperatief

Gigawatt Global, a Dutch company, develops affordable solar projects worldwide, from planning through to implementation, with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020. The company’s vision is for a world in which developing nations will be powered predominantly by clean, safe, affordable, renewable energy. Clean energy will not be a luxury that only wealthy nations can afford, but will be the energy of choice for lifting people in developing countries out of poverty. Gigawatt Global mobilizes the ingenuity of our international team to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and empower people globally.

Yosef Abramowitz, President of Gigawatt Global

Yosef is co-founder of Israel’s solar industry and the Arava Power Company along with David Rosenblatt and Ed Hofland. Abramowitz was named Person of the Year by the 2012 Israel Energy and Business Conferenceand by CNN as one of the world’s leading Green Pioneers. His solar efforts were featured by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN’s The Next List.

Chaim Motzen, Managing Director

Chaim is developing the first utility-scale solar PV field in East Africa, an 8.5 MW plant in Rwanda. He is a former consultant at McKinsey & Company. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School. Chaim is on the Board of Directors of Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, a world leader in facilitating bone marrow transplants for children and adults suffering from life-threatening diseases.

Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV)

The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is a safe and structured residential community for orphaned and vulnerable youth in Rwanda. The Village is a place of hope, where traumatized youth can "dry their tears" (Agahozo) and "live in peace" (Shalom).  Within this caring environment, the rhythm of life is restored, so that youth who have been through great trauma find a home, family, and community, as well as a place to learn and become leaders for tomorrow. The goal is for youth who come to live and learn in the ASYV to grow into healthy adults who are not only able to care for themselves and their families, but who are also committed to making their community, their country, and indeed the world a better place. A unique and ambitious project, the Village is meant to serve as a model for caring for the disrupted lives of youth across Rwanda, Africa, and beyond, to wherever there are traumatized youth who need a place to call home.

Norton Rose Fulbright 

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice, providing the world’s pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. Norton Rose Fulbright has more than 3800 lawyers based in over 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Recognized for their industry focus, they are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare. Norton Rose Fulbright is dedicated to operating in accordance with the global business principles of quality, unity and integrity.  The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by global head of energy Simon Currie and senior associate Laura Kiwelu. Richard Hill, Kate Freeman and Jim Jordan advised on the construction and operation aspects and Kushal Bhimjiani and Conrad Purcell advised on the project financing and equity funding.


Norfund (the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries) is owned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and serves as an instrument in Norwegian development assistance policy.  The fund contributes to poverty reduction and economic development through investments in profitable businesses and transfer of knowledge and technology.  The current investment portfolio of Norfund totals USD 1.6 billion invested in 117 different projects.

Scatec Solar

Scatec Solar is a leading, globally acting, independent solar energy provider, focusing on making solar power attractive and affordable to customers and investors worldwide. The company masters the complete downstream value chain of the PV business, including project development, finance, engineering, construction and operation and maintenance. The company is also an Independent Power Producer (IPP) through ownerships in a number of solar PV parks. Scatec Solar has a clear focus on large, utility scaled installations and the instinct to be a first mover in emerging PV markets. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, the company is present in a number of countries and geographies and has a rapidly expanding track-record of more than 300 MW PV installations in regions with excellent solar irradiation and high return on investments.


FMO (the Netherlands Development Finance Company) is the Dutch development bank. FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing and emerging markets by investing in ambitious entrepreneurs. FMO believes a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life. FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With an investment portfolio of EUR 6.3 billion, FMO is one of the largest European bilateral private sector development banks.

Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF)

The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) is a Public Private Partnership providing long-term USD or EUR debt to finance the construction and development of private infrastructure in 47 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. EAIF provides between USD 10 million to USD 35 million to fund projects across a wide range of industries including telecoms, transport, water and power. While EAIF lends on commercial terms, it aims to support projects that promote economic growth and reduce poverty, benefit broad-based population groups, address issues of equity and participation, and promote social, economic and cultural rights. As of January 2014, EAIF has committed over USD 900 million in 45 projects. EAIF is providing part of the debt finance for this project.


 is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds. Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported more than $200 billion of investment in over 4,000 projects, generated an estimated $76 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 278,000 American jobs.

Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP) 

The Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP) is a partnership of the British, Finnish and Austrian governments. EEP programs increase access to renewable energy services and promote energy efficiency in underserved countries by providing grants and seed money for sustainable energy projects. The programs run in Central America, the Andean region, Southern and Eastern Africa, Mekong region and Indonesia. They strive to increase access to sustainable energy for all through improved climate sustainability. EEP has provided a grant to help meet pre-development expenses for this project.

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