Standard Chartered PE plugs $57m in African power

The bank’s investment in Copperbelt Energy is the first within its $2bn commitment to Power Africa, the $16bn public-private partnership launched by the US president last year.

Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) has invested $57 million in Zambian Energy Corporation, the controlling shareholder of Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC).

CEC, an independent power transmission and distribution company based in Zambia, is listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange. SCPE’s investment will land the bank’s private capital unit a 25.8 percent stake in the business.

CEC provides power to the mines operating in Zambia’s Copperbelt and transmits power for ZESCO, the Zambian national utility. In addition to this core business, CEC recently established CEC Africa (CECA), a Mauritius-domiciled platform company that will invest in African power infrastructure outside of Zambia.

CECA has already acquired two operating assets in Nigeria through the country’s recently completed power sector privatisation programme, comprising a controlling interest in the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and a 20 percent stake in the 600-megawatt (MW) Shiroro hydro plant. It also has a pipeline of development assets in Namibia and Sierra Leone.

SCEA’s investment in Zambian Energy is the first within its $2 billion commitment to ‘Power Africa’, a public-private partnership launched by US President Obama upon its visit to the continent last year. The program, which is backed by $7 billion of US state funds, has already raised $9 billion of commitments for African power projects, accounting for a total of 10,000MW in new electricity generation.

According to the World Bank, Africa’s total infrastructure spending needs currently amount to a yearly $93 billion. Of these, the institution estimates that $41 billion, representing 7 gigawatts (GW) of generation capacity, will have to be spent on power to meet the continent’s growing electricity demand.