Actis to Buy 88% Stake in 100-Megawatt Kenyan Wind Project

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London-based private equity company Actis LLP will take an 88 percent stake in the 100-megawatt Kipeto Wind Power in Kenya after buying out most of the project’s other shareholders, one of the farm’s founders said.

Kenneth Namunje said he and two partners at Craftskills Wind Energy International Ltd. will cede some shareholding to Actis and will end up with 12 percent of the project from an initial 20 percent. Other founders are Simon Guyo and Charles Munywoki.

Actis is also in talks with African Infrastructure Investment Managers to acquire a 55 percent stake held by the Old Mutual Alternative Investments Pty Ltd. unit, and a 20 percent stake by the International Finance Corp., Namunje said in a text message.

The local Maasai community, which had previously been allocated a 5 percent stake, will instead receive 5 percent of annual dividends once the project is on stream from 2020, Namunje said.

Actis doesn’t comment on investments until after reaching financial close, spokesman John Thompson said by email.

The IFC said in an emailed response to questions that its exit is at a “natural transition point” for the project and fits the investment strategies of all parties. “Actis is acquiring a controlling stake in the project consisting of the equity interests of both IFC and AIIM,” it said.

Project Delays

East Africa’s biggest economy, which has an electricity deficit, is boosting production from solar, wind and geothermal to cut reliance on expensive diesel-powered plants. Kipeto, a project under former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, is in Kajiado county, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of the capital, Nairobi.

The U.S. emerging markets investor, Overseas Private Investment Corp., has said it’s providing the project with $233 million in senior debt financing.

Kenya will from now on limit shareholding changes once a project is approved and a power-purchase deal is signed to avoid delays by speculators offloading projects to others upon receiving necessary approvals, Energy Secretary Charles Keter said by phone on Monday. Kenya Power & Lighting Ltd. signed a 20-year purchase agreement for the project almost three years ago.

The Energy Regulatory Commission’s director-general, Pavel Oimeke, said the investors were yet to approach the agency on the shareholding changes.

AIIM had a stake in the ill-fated 61-megawatt Kinangop Wind Park that collapsed in 2015 after some residents demanded more money for their land, while others cited health issues associated with wind farms. Investors are in arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce, seeking Kenyan government compensation for losses incurred.

Opposition to the Kipeto project has so far been on fears the blades will endanger birdlife in the area. The IFC said it was confident of Actis’ ability to “manage the biodiversity risk in the project.”