Norfund in US$35mn deal to establish and finance ESCOTEL

01 Jan 2021

Norfund, Inspired Evolution, and Sagecom have participated in a US$35 million equity investment to establish and finance ESCOTEL, an energy services company currently 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 S.A.

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

Wayne Keast, Managing Partner at Inspired Evolution said “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. 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 said, “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. ESCOTEL’s activities will thus support the fast-growing digital and telecom economy that is essential to create more jobs in the region, and in a more sustainable manner.”

Eric Rieul, CEO at Sagemcom Energy & Telecom said, “This initiative creates a powerful vehicle for ESCO projects in Africa. ESCOTEL combines unique experiences and competencies of Inspired Evolution, a specialised African renewable energy investor, Norfund, a large fund focusing on clean energy and renewable infrastructure and us, Sagemcom offering our knowledge and experience in implementing and maintaining power projects in 22 African countries. ESCOTEL is thus able to provide the most up to date power solutions for telecom networks all over Africa, increasing mobile service quality, reducing the cost of ownership, and decreasing CO2 emissions.”

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