Gigawatt Global to boost Burundi energy needs

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Gigawatt Global, a Dutch company focusing on renewable energy, has started working on developing a 7.5 megawatts solar field in Burundi.

Backed by American investors and a founding partner of the U.S. Power Africa initiative, Gigawatt Global stated that the project will fill the power needs of more than 87,000 people and businesses, and will provide 300 temporary jobs during construction. In addition, the project will support up to 50 permanent jobs during the 25-year operational phase.

“It takes a global village to bring utility-scale green energy to where it is needed most in Africa,” said Yosef Abramowitz, CEO, Gigawatt Global. “Following the lack-luster United Nations climate conference, we are demonstrating to the world that it is possible to create and scale a business model to achieve, especially in frontier markets, many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Gigawatt Global and its partners selected Voltalia, the French engineering, procurement and construction company, to build the solar field, which is located on the soft rolling hills on the outskirts of Mubuga village on 11.5 hectares of privately-owned land. The field will be using 25,140 Suntech panels and 56 Kaco string inverters and is expected to be interconnected well before the United Nations COP 26, which will be hosted by the UK.

Michael Fichtenberg, managing director, Gigawatt Global Burundi SA and vice president of finance and business development for Gigawatt Global Cooperatief, said: “Bringing clean energy to one of the world’s least developed countries fulfills Gigawatt Global’s mission to be a premier impact platform of choice for renewables in Africa.”

“We accomplished this pioneering project together with supporters from across the entire development spectrum, including innovative financial products being deployed for the first time with this project. We believe this demonstrates how solar power can be implemented in other developing markets, while decreasing dependency on costly and polluting diesel generators.”

“We are extremely pleased to be working with Inspired Evolution, UK’s Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and USAID’s Power Africa, and our partners in the government of Burundi, in particular the Ministry of Energy,” Fichtenberg added.

Gigawatt Global’s Burundi project, located 10 kilometers from Gitega city, is the largest private sector investment in that country’s energy sector in 30 years, and will be the first permanent power station built in that time.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)—previously the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)—is supporting the project with political risk insurance and senior debt. The project is also supported by EEP, Get.Invest, and by the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) to cover relevant studies.

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