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The US Government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), is to dedicate a senior staff member for South Africa who will help implement the body's US-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (US-ACEF).
The initiative is a program which aligns the resources of OPIC, the State Department, the US Trade and Development Agency and the US Agency for International Development to catalyze private sector investment in clean energy projects throughout Africa.
PV Tech understands US-ACEF is expected to catalyze hundreds of millions of dollars of new OPIC financing, as well as additional private sector investment, in clean energy projects.
OPIC is currently providing $629 million financing and political risk insurance to projects in South Africa, in the financial services, construction and power sectors.
Last month, OPIC’s board of directors approved $250 million in financing for the agency’s first solar power project in the country, a 60MW plant with SunEdison that will help diversify the country’s electricity generation beyond its heavy coal concentration and in the process create jobs and displace approximately 140,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in its first year alone.
OPIC said the senior staff member will be in place next year.
In the past two years OPIC has made significant efforts to expand its work in Africa, resulting in an extraordinary 300% increase in the agency’s commitments to the region last year. Whereas Sub-Saharan Africa comprised only four percent of OPIC’s global portfolio of loans, guarantees and political risk insurance in 2001, today it stands at a full 21%.
OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield, said: “OPIC’s focus on Africa reflects both its strategic importance to the Obama Administration and also the growing interest of US investors in the continent,”
Littlefield added: “We are very bullish on Africa, and we expect that the dedication of a senior staff member for South Africa will mean new opportunities for OPIC to support investment to key African countries through its financing and risk mitigation instruments.”
US Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips said: “We are excited that OPIC has chosen South Africa for this commitment of resources in Africa. As the continent’s economies continue to grow, and its middle classes increase their spending power, ever more investment opportunities will present themselves to US businesses. Having OPIC resources engaging in southern Africa’s business gateway will enhance our ability to bring those opportunities to realization.”