The European Commission‘s electrification financing initiative, ElectriFI, has made its first investment of US$2.5 million in clean energy micro-utility Sigora Haiti, supplying households, schools and small firms with electricity.
ElectriFI received 290 proposals in response to its first call for investment in April 2016 before passing management of the €75 million fund on to the Association of European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI) and its new EDFI Management Company (EDFIMC).
“Our goal is to grow ElectriFI this year. Next year, we hope to launch AgriFI. With that experience, we can think about health, education and water funds. Some people say it is impossible to find these projects but once you get out of the capital cities you will find there is lots of private and commercial activity going on already,” Frederik van den Bosch, managing director of the EDFI Management Company (EDFIMC), told Development Finance.
Van den Bosch joined the management company in September last year from Dutch development bank FMO, which was instrumental in setting up ElectriFI fund before EDFIMC took over. The Agricultural Finance Initiative (AgriFI) is the European Commission’s fund for smallholder agriculture and micro SMEs in the sector. Van den Bosch has recruited a team of nearly 10 staff, which he intends to grow along with the company’s investment portfolio at an ambitious rate of one new contract every month.
The financing of Sigora Haiti, which is owned by San Francisco-based Sigora International, will be used to support phase one of Sigora Haiti’s Northwest electrification project. This phase will expand the company’s existing pilot grid network from 5,000 customers to 136,000 (or 27,000 consumer accounts). It will have a renewable energy capacity of 3.5 Mega-Watt peak (MWp). Sigora’s smart grid technology allows the micro-utility to remotely monitor and control grid performance and capture consumer payments electronically, side-stepping traditional challenges of keeping micro-grids working reliably and profitably.
Andy Bogdan Bindea, CEO of Sigora International, said: “There is a significant lack of funds available for the scaling stage of capital intensive electrification operations. ElectriFI has been able to bring funds to market that address that lack, filling the gap between seed stage and project finance stage and doing so rigorously yet maintaining the flexibility scaling stage operations require.”
Sigora Haiti currently employs more than 30 people that the company has committed to train and retain long term, they work in all areas of the deployment from construction, operation, maintenance, customer service, engineering, project management and senior management.