NEoT Offgrid Africa and partners to develop, operate some mini-grids in Benin

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NEoT Offgrid Africa, GDS International, and ARESS have agreed to join forces to enter the very promising rural electrification sector in Benin by creating a joint company, Les Soleils du Bénin. The partnership begins with a first flagship project aiming to electrify 12 localities in Benin within a year.

This project is operated within the framework of the call for project proposals launched by the MCA-Benin II Offgrid Clean Energy Facility (OCEF) on funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is the pilot phase of the newly implemented off-grid electrification regulation in the Republic of Benin, a first in West Africa.

The project represents an investment of €8.5 million, co-financed by NEoT Offgrid Africa, as a financial partner of the project, and MCA Benin II. The goal is to install 1.7 MW of photovoltaic capacity and 3 MWh of battery capacity in all 12 localities, supplying more than 5,000 homes and businesses with electricity. The project has been developed by GDS International, and will be co-constructed by GDS International and ARESS. ARESS will also be the project operator.

Les Soleils du Bénin brings together leading companies in their respective fields:

NEoT Offgrid Africa is an investment platform founded by Meridiam and EDF to support and accelerate the energy transition in Africa, and which has already committed more than 30 million euros investment to electrify of more than 44,000 homes and businesses in Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Nigeria. NOA’s aim is to multiply investment projects with the best technological and operational partners in the field of off-grid energy in order to build the largest mini-grid portfolio in sub-Saharan Africa.

GDS International, subsidiary of the Générale du Solaire group, is one of the main French players in solar energy, an independent electricity producer with more than 200 MW of solar power plants in operation and a portfolio of more than 1 GWp projects under development in France, Italy, West Africa, and the Middle East.

ARESS is an energy transition leader in Benin and West Africa. With a versatile team built around several business segments, since 2012 ARESS has deployed more than 5 MWp distributed throughout more than 50,000 decentralized and hybrid solutions, with a strong presence in 4 West African countries.

The combined expertise of these three partners will enable them to create autonomous, connected, and environmentally friendly power grids intended to improve the availability of electric current and access to electricity for public infrastructures, SMEs, communities, and households.

In order to complete this transaction, NEoT Offgrid Africa has received support from leading players in the field of rural electrification in Africa: Altai, for the commercial side, DNV for the technical side, Royal HaskoningDHV for the environmental and social sides, and Trinity for the legal side.

Idris TAYEBI, Director of NEoT Offgrid Africa: “NEoT Offgrid Africa is very proud to participate in this ambitious project alongside GDS International and ARESS. This MCA-Benin II program, in collaboration with local authorities in Benin, provides a structured regulatory framework to promote investment from private players such as NEoT Offgrid Africa. We hope that this initiative will give rise, in Benin and elsewhere in the region, to other electrification programs using decentralized solar energy as an energy solution for isolated or landlocked regions.”

Daniel BOUR, President of the Générale du Solaire Group: “We are proud to participate in this innovative and promising project. The success of this partnership encourages us to develop similar actions in the region. The MCA-Benin II program is an exemplary initiative which we hope will inspire other development agencies and other countries to replicate this experience and further mobilize the private sector. This is a unique way to deploy solar energy quickly and massively enough to meet the needs of populations, and meet the challenges of climate change.”

Léonide Michael SINSIN, Managing Director of ARESS: “This innovative project allows us to address one of the many facets of energy access: mini-grids. It helps us strengthen the footprint of our group in the sub-region, and to explore new know-how to ensure the energy supplied is sustainable and competitive. This project will be a great opportunity to reduce inequalities and reinforce the attractiveness of the regulatory framework and structural reforms underway in Benin.”

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