Powering up

Ghana has, until recently, epitomised the growing economic strength of many African nations with key exports including cocoa, oil and gold riding the commodities boom. But, amid the downturn in the global commodities market, Ghana’s economic growth is expected to slow in 2015 to its lowest level in two decades.

Among its burgeoning problems is an inability to effectively supply electricity to its population – and this is seen as a major potential block to future economic growth. The Kpone Independent Power Project (KIPP) is seen as a one answer to the problem.

The shareholders of Cenpower Generation Company (Cenpower), the project company behind KIPP, recently reached a $900 million financial close on the construction and development of the 350-megawatt (MW) plant.

Located near Tema, southern Ghana, KIPP is expected to be the largest independent power producer (IPP) in the country once complete. The combined cycle power plant will then represent nearly 10 percent of Ghana’s installed capacity.

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), a joint venture between Australia’s Macquarie Group and South Africa-based Old Mutual Investment Group, owns a direct stake of 15 percent in Cenpower, together with its co-investors. The fund manager is invested in the company through its African Infrastructure Investment Fund II (AIIF2), a $500 million vehicle closed in 2011.

Other shareholders in Cenpower include Nigeria-based Africa Finance Corporation, Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and FMO, the Dutch development bank.

“Cenpower represents AIIF2 and AIIM’s first investment in Ghana, which is a jurisdiction we have been keen to invest in for some time,” said Jurie Swart, chief executive of AIIM, in a statement. “We expect that it will be the first of many IPPs, where the private sector and international investors can play a meaningful role in strengthening Ghana’s power sector.”

AIIF2 and AIIM are also invested in Nigeria’s Azura-Edo IPP, a 450MW gas-fired plant to be located in Edo State, Nigeria. The financing documents for the project were signed in December 2014, with financial close expected in early 2015.