While funding remains a major challenge for Africa’s energy sector, the Chief Executive Officer of PUTTRU, Monica Maduekwe, whose company is at the forefront of interfacing between the Development Finance Institutions, DFIs and the energy market in Africa, has advocated a strategic approach towards attracting the right funding for governments and businesses, if the energy gaps of the continent, especially Nigeria, must be bridged soon.
At a virtual summit of stakeholders in the African energy market, Maduekwe insisted that energy is critical to Africa’s development and must be given the right attention by the various governments.
According to her, “In order to close the energy gap, African countries will need to mobilise financing at an accelerated rate and do so at an affordable cost.
“When asked, most energy entrepreneurs will choose lack of access to finance as their primary challenge. And, yet, they probably have seen several reports, including PUTTRU’s report, available for free on our portal, saying that financing is largely available. It is however true that you also tend to hear financiers talk about the lack of bankable projects to finance. So, both statements are true, from the entrepreneurs’ side and from the financiers’ side. The question now is what is behind this disconnect?
“It all starts from the companies themselves: how prepared are they to receive external financing – measured by how much of the financiers’ expectations they (these companies) are aware of and are able to meet. In our report, our ‘3 Must-Haves’, focus largely on project finance (or non-recourse finance). However, whether the company is interested in securing financing through project finance or corporate finance (raising financing from your balance sheet), the energy company, its operational and financial position, will be looked into by financiers to determine if the company can access these financing facilities. For a project finance or non-recourse type financing for example, the managerial and financial soundness of the companies (project sponsors) backing a special purpose vehicle (SPV) influences the bankability of the SPV. At the end of the day, no lender wants to be in a situation where they have to sell off the assets of the project to recuperate the loan given.
“PUTTRU therefore prepares companies to be ready for external financing by conducting this due diligence before companies are presented to financiers that are a good fit to the company seeking financing.”
She however painted a positive image for the sector, owing to the huge returns on investments a factor that has made the continent an investors’ haven.