African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), under its Regional Liquidity Support Facility (RLSF), has supported the Salima Solar PV plant, by providing a revolving liquidity guarantee that can be drawn following any payment delays by the national offtaker – Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Limited (ESCOM). This is the second project in the country to benefit from RLSF, the first project being Phase 1 of the Nkhotakota Solar Power Plant, with an initial installed capacity of 21 MW.
The 60 MW Salima Solar PV plant, being one of the most advanced projects, will be instrumental for Malawi’s underdeveloped electricity sector which has an installed generation capacity of around 439 MW. Over 90% of this capacity comes from hydro power plants on the Shire River in the southern region; this heavy reliance on hydro is often constrained by drought and low water levels. Moving forward, there is high potential for solar and new hydro technologies to enter into the power market, thanks to reforms by the Government that have led to the establishment of a viable electricity market for private sector participation in generation expansion.
Salima Solar PV plant is due to start operations in August 2021. It was developed by JCM Matswani Solar Corp Limited, a Malawian Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owned by the Canadian Independent Power Producer (IPP) JCM Power and InfraCo Africa Limited; the latter is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). Construction equity was provided by JCM Power, the Dutch Development Bank FMO, and InfraCo Africa Limited. This will be the first solar PV in Malawi to connect to the grid. The energy generated, at an estimated annual average of 154 GWh, will be sold exclusively to the Malawian utility, ESCOM, under a 20 year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). ATI, through RLSF, will provide cover for an amount of USD 4.4 million against the risk of delayed payment by ESCOM; the RLSF policy will be for an initial tenor of up to ten (10) years. The liquidity cover being provided via RLSF will enable up to USD 78 million of total project financing.
Malawi’s energy sector has recently gone through sector restructuring efforts with the goal of increasing the availability of reliable electricity supply in the country. This includes the unbundling of ESCOM and the establishment of the Electricity Generation Company of Malawi (EGENCO). More recently, ESCOM has been further unbundled with the introduction of Power Market Limited (PML), which will become the Single Buyer in the energy sector – taking over PPAs signed between ESCOM and IPPs. Additional restructuring of Malawi’s power market is underway, with strong investor interest and political will for IPPs to enter the market.
ATI’s CEO, Manuel Moses, said: “The Government of Malawi views private investment as critical to achieving its goals for the power sector. This is evidenced by ESCOM’s recent positive track record in meeting its payment obligations to Malawi’s only operational IPP in a timely manner as recorded by ATI’s Transparency Tool. We remain confident that ESCOM’s payments to JCM Matswani will follow the same trend. In addition to the two transactions that we have supported under RLSF, we look forward to providing similar support to eligible renewable energy IPPs in Malawi and indeed across the rest of the African continent.”
JCM Power’s Country Director, Phylip Leferink noted, “JCM Power is excited to complete construction and enter into operations of the first utility scale solar PV Plant in Malawi in August 2021. The support of ATI played an important role in enhancing the project’s bankability and contributed to JCM’s focus to develop high-quality, innovative and state of the art projects across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Salima Solar project is positively changing Malawi’s energy landscape whereby JCM is firmly committed to continue to play a pivotal role in further developing the country’s energy sector.”
InfraCo Africa’s Head of Asset Management, Connor Dawson said, “Salima Solar will be Malawi’s first grid-connected solar PV plant. The revolving liquidity guarantee provided by ATI, under its Regional Liquidity Support Facility, will support Salima Solar, ensuring that it can deliver reliable access to clean electricity; powering future economic growth.”