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Johannesburg, South Africa, December 20, 2017–
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has finalized financing for the construction of Zambia’s first large-scale solar power plant – the first project to be developed, tendered, awarded, and financed under the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar program.
Financing agreements have been signed between Bangweulu Power Corporation Limited -- sponsored by Neoen/First Solar and Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) -- IFC, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in Lusaka, Zambia. Neoen and First Solar have now issued a “notice to proceed” for the construction of the new 47.5MWac facility, whose low-cost renewable power will help the country cope with droughts that have afflicted its hydropower facilities.
The equity for the project is provided by Neoen/First Solar and the Industrial Development Corporation of Zambia (IDC). The financing package includes senior loans of up to $13.3 million from IFC, up to $13.3 million from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program, and up to $13.3 million from OPIC, along with an interest rate swap from IFC and a partial risk guarantee from the International Development Agency.
Neoen/First Solar were one of two winners in the inaugural Scaling Solar tender in Zambia, setting a new benchmark for solar tariffs in sub-Saharan Africa, with a ground-breaking 6.015 cents/kWh tariff, which will remain fixed for 25 years.
“Solar power holds limitless potential for countries in Africa, but for many countries it has been hard to attract and close competitively priced projects with high quality developers,” said World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim. “Scaling Solar was designed to fix this and bring investors and governments together in a transparent and streamlined competitive process to enable the private sector to provide a clean energy future for Africa. Universal access to energy — especially clean, affordable energy — is essential for developing nations to grow and for people to reach their full potential, and Scaling Solar has proven it can help deliver this.”
Zambia’s first Scaling Solar tender, which was designed and tendered based on the Scaling Solar approach under the guidance of IFC’s Advisory Services team, attracted significant international investor interest, receiving seven bids. The Neoen/First Solar plant will have a capacity of 47.5MWac and will be constructed in just 9.5 months using First Solar panels. The other winner of the first-round tender, Enel of Italy, is expected to reach financial close on its 28.2MWac plant in the coming months.
“Once again we demonstrate our ability to gather support from major investors such as IFC and OPIC for a project with remarkable impact.” Said Xavier Barbaro, CEO of Neoen. “We are proud to be giving Zambia its first high-power solar park in this initial stage of the Scaling Solar programme and to be offering a competitive rate that constitutes a record for Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Over half the global electricity access deficit is in Africa, with 2014 figures showing over 600 million people still lack access to electricity. This is more than half the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Scaling Solar is a game changer for Zambia and other countries facing electricity shortages,” said Philippe Le Houérou, IFC’s CEO. “The successful close of Scaling Solar is proof that we can find innovative ways to reduce risks that encourage private sector investment and deliver affordable renewable energy for countries in Africa and around the world.”
For Zambia, a country highly dependent on hydropower, lower than expected rainfall over several years led to acute energy shortages and load-shedding of up to 10 hours a day. This was a severe barrier to the country’s economic development.
“The package of bankable documents, transaction structuring advice, and research that Scaling Solar provided helped attract more competitors, ensured a successful process, and delivered record breaking low prices,” said Mateyo C. Kaluba, Chief Executive Officer of IDC Zambia. “Diversifying our energy mix and expanding our installed capacity will allow us to power Zambia’s socio-economic development. We look forward to continuing on this path with Scaling Solar on a new round of projects for 500MWac of solar energy.”
Scaling Solar is now developing over 1.2 gigawatts of solar power in partnership with four African countries Zambia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Senegal, and 12 companies have already been pre-qualified for Zambia's second round of Scaling Solar tenders. In addition, the program is expanding to new regions with countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East in discussions to join Scaling Solar.
About Scaling Solar
Scaling Solar is a World Bank Group solution that makes it easier for governments to quickly procure and develop large-scale solar projects with private financing. It includes a ‘one-stop shop’ package of technical assistance, templated documents, pre-approved financing, insurance products, and guarantees. Scaling Solar has financing support of USAID’s Power Africa, the Private Infrastructure Development Group company, DevCo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the UK Department for International Development. For more information, please visit
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group plays a key role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. It consists of five institutions: the World Bank, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA); the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Working together in more than 100 countries, these institutions provide financing, advice, and other solutions that enable countries to address the most urgent challenges of development. For more information, please visit
About the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program
The IFC-Canada Climate Change Program promotes private sector financing for clean energy projects and received funding under Canada’s fast-start financing to catalyze investments in renewable, low-carbon technologies that would not otherwise happen. The Government of Canada is committed to support climate change action and is delivering CAD $2.65 billion between 2015 and 2020 to support developing countries’ transition to low carbon economies and adapt to the impacts of climate change. For more information, visit
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