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Inspired Evolution, an Africa-focused investment advisory firm that specialises in clean and renewable energy, led a $35 million equity investment by its Evolution II Fund and co-investors, Norfund and Sagemcom, to establish and finance ESCOTEL, an energy services company focused on Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Headquartered in Mauritius, ESCOTEL has been set up to provide energy services to mobile tower owners and operators, owning and operating decentralised renewable energy infrastructure across Africa.

ESCOTEL will initially supply, install, operate and maintain decentralised solar and storage hybrid power systems for a portfolio of around 900 telecom sites in Sierra Leone, Liberia and over time the Democratic Republic of Congo, owned by subsidiaries of France-based telecommunications company Orange.

Evolution II has committed $20 million alongside $10 million from Norfund and $5 million from Sagemcom Energy & Telecom, which will also act as equipment supplier, EPC contractor and O&M provider to ESCOTEL.

“We are excited to partner with Norfund and Sagemcom to establish and provide financing to ESCOTEL and to assist local Orange mobile operators to transition to a lower carbon infrastructure, at the same time improving operating efficiency and reducing costs,” says Wayne Keast, managing partner at Inspired Evolution.

“This is achieved by hybridising existing power systems of telecom sites with the supply, installation, and operations of solar and storage power systems, as well as by deploying these cleaner power systems to new telecom sites. ESCOTEL’s initial investment will abate more than 6 240 tons of CO2 every year in Sierra Leone, and 10 092 tons of CO2 every year in Liberia.”

ESCOTEL has secured insurance from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a division of the World Bank. MIGA’s exposure will be shared with the Private Sector Window (PSW) of the International Development Association (IDA), which meets minimum concessionality principles of IDA.

The insurance covers the risk of transfer restrictions and inconvertibility, war and civil disturbance, and expropriation for an initial period of up to 10 years.

Pål Helgesen, investment director – clean energy at Norfund, says: “We are delighted to take part in an investment showcasing a business model based on locally generated renewable energy that will contribute to providing cleaner and more reliable power to telecom operators.

“This will enable the telecom operators to free up their investment capabilities for their core business activities, namely building new telecom sites and increasing coverage.”

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