New French fund with 87.5 million euros targets African solar development

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PARIS (Reuters) - A new investment fund with 87.5 million euros ($92.63 million) will finance solar power production across Africa, with a focus on West and Central Africa, French fund manager RGREEN INVEST and investment adviser ECHOSYS INVEST said on Friday.

The AFRIGREEEN Debt Impact Fund's first closing will finance on- and off-grid solar power plants for small- and medium-sized commercial and industrial consumers across the continent, the statement said.

The project aims to provide direct lending and asset-based debt facilities for regional and international developers and African commercial and industrial companies to develop solar infrastructure.

The groups are looking to have a portfolio of twenty to thirty investments, with aim of meeting long-term debt financing needs of between 10 and 15 million euros, with an average of around 5 million euros over eight to ten years, the statement said.

The fund also includes and offer of long-term local currency financing in Ghana and Nigeria with support from the International Development Association's Private Sector Window Local Currency Facility.

The Fund's will measure impact targets in terms of megawatts (MW) installed, megawtt-hours (MWh) produced, tonnes of CO2 emissions and litres of fuel avoided, and number of companies directly or indirectly accessing new financing channel, it said.

The impact will also be measured by the number of commercial and industrial companies able to upgrade their power generation facilities and enhance their efficiency.

RGREEN INVEST and ECHOSYS INVEST said that the first closing included commitments from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

French banks Societe Generale and BNP Paribas completed the first round of funding, the statement said.

The group is aiming to raise a total of 100 million euros from development finance institutions and private investors.

($1 = 0.9446 euros)

(Reporting by Forrest Crellin and Sudip Kar-Gupta. Editing by Jane Merriman)