Qair, an independent French renewable energy producer, and STOA, an investment fund of the Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), launched the joint platform MIHIA Holding (Make It Happen In Africa) in October 2021 to invest in African renewable energy projects beginning with a 24 MWp solar project in Burkina Faso. The two companies own 51% (Qair) and 49% (STOA) of the MIHIA Holding platform. The platform’s first solar energy project in Burkina Faso is expected to begin soon in Zano, a town in the Tenkodogo department in the south-eastern part of the country. The goal is to commission the plant in the second half of 2022. Solar, wind, hydropower, waste-to-energy and energy storage projects will be the focus of the new platform. Its primary objective will be to develop an Africa-wide sustainable energy mix.
Qair and STOA’s willingness to collaborate on renewable energy projects in Africa stems from their shared belief that massive investments into low-carbon energy are urgently needed in a number of African countries, where electricity systems are frequently unreliable and extremely costly for both public authorities and end users. This collaboration will aid in the development of a sustainable energy mix and will assist in meeting the growing needs of rapidly expanding populations. MIHIA Holdings is the manifestation of Qair and STOA’s shared ambition for a long-term partnership focused on solar, wind, hydro, and waste-to-energy projects. MIHIA leverages the specialized and complementary expertise of Qair, a 30-year veteran of the renewable energy sector in France and abroad, and STOA, an emerging markets-focused equity investor.
There are big expectations for the MIHIA platform, which is devoted to generating African electricity from renewable sources. With Qair, a long-term relationship has been built based on cooperation and trust, early inclusion of a strong E&S component in project development, local involvement with people, and the complementarity of initiatives and abilities. This partnership is a win-win. According to STOA’s Deputy CEO Marie-Laure Mazaud, the Zano Burkina Faso initiative is the first major success of this relationship and similar initiatives will follow in the country and across the continent.
Burkina Faso’s Energy Situation at a Glance
According to the World Bank, Burkina Faso is one of the top twenty countries in the world with a significant electricity access deficit and one of the lowest global rates of electrification. As is the case in other African countries, the majority of energy is generated by biomass, firewood in rural areas, and charcoal in urban areas.
Burkina Faso is one of the least electrified countries in the world with an overall electrification rate of 19%, where 60% of the urban population and only 3% of the rural population are connected to electricity. Access to non-solid fuels is also extremely limited. Currently, it is available at a rate of around 8% nationwide. The country is a member of ECOWAS and, along with the rest of the region, took a coordinated approach to implementing the SEforAll Country Action, developing the Action Agenda concurrently with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Action Plans and formally adopting them. By 2030, the government intends to achieve global electricity access of 95% (50% in rural areas) and universal access to clean cooking solutions in urban areas. Additionally, the government established a target of 50% renewable energy in the electric mix by 2030 (without biomass). Burkina Faso’s government has ambitious plans to expand energy access, with electrification rates currently resting at 18% and rural electrification rates amounting to 5%.
Other renewable projects in Burkina Faso
Bboxx and Geocoton Advens Group have formed a joint venture as the first step in a long-term strategic partnership aimed at expanding clean energy access. Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and Co-Founder of Bboxx, commented: “While energy access is extremely limited in Burkina Faso, the potential to improve people’s lives through clean energy is enormous. Establishing strategic partnerships is critical to securing the financing and momentum necessary to provide clean energy to millions of people….as we approach COP26, we cannot afford to take our foot off the gas if we are to make meaningful progress toward UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 – access to affordable and clean energy for all”.
The World Bank has approved a $168 million loan to Burkina Faso to support the country’s efforts to expand access to electricity in rural areas and accelerate its transition to clean energy. Burkina Faso’s Solar Energy and Access Project (SEAP) aims to increase access to solar energy and private finance as part of the broader ambition to to increase electricity access overall. The project will support the electrification of approximately 300 rural communities and the connection of approximately 120,000 households, micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, community facilities such as schools and health centers to modern and reliable electricity services.
In March 2021, the government announced a new large-scale renewable energy plant. Located approximately 250 kilometers south of the nation’s capital city of Ouagadougou, near the town of Pâ, the new solar energy plant will supply 100% of its output to Burkina Faso’s national power utility, La Société Nationale D’électricité Du Burkina Faso (SONABEL). According to Paromita Chatterjee, an Investment Director at the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) “harvesting Burkina Faso’s sunshine to improve its future prospects will bring numerous benefits to the country and make a significant contribution to combating global warming….this project exemplifies how the EAIF’s public-private partnership model can have long-term economic, social, and environmental benefits while mobilizing private capital and enterprise to build new infrastructure”. EAIF has now supported a total of twenty renewable energy projects throughout Africa. It has provided loans to private sector developers totaling US$350 million and providing Africa with 825MW of clean, renewable energy.
People in Burkina Faso, especially women and youth, will benefit from these project’s learning and employment opportunities, which will in turn help alleviate poverty and enhance people’s quality of life as well as their working conditions.
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