SA SME Fund reaches first close at $32mn, IFC considers Release Utilities Africa Holding investment

SA SME Fund reaches first close at $32mn, IFC considers Release Utilities Africa Holding investment

SA SME Fund, a venture capital fund-of-funds has announced its first close at USD 32mn (ZAR 600mn).

The fund aims to attract ZAR 1bn in total. The fund has attracted interest from institutional and pension funds as well as commitments from the Department of Science and Innovation and the Consolidated Retirement Fund for Local Government (represented by Sukha and Associates).

So far, the fund has commitments in sixteen funds in venture capital, debt and private equity.

Ketso Gordhan, CEO of the SA SME Fund, comments: “Attracting institutional and pension fund capital to the VC industry is a significant achievement.

Meanwhile, IFC is considering providing up to USD 165mn in financing for modular solar power and battery-storage systems for Release Utilities Africa Holding to address shortfalls in local-grid power supplies in West and Central Africa. RUA currently has three assets, which are at various stages. In Cameroon, it has two 15 MW PV and storage stations in Guider and Maroua, Northern Cameroon. And in Chad, a 30 MW PV and storage station located southeast of N’Djamena.

The entire project cost is estimated at USD 150mn and the proposed IFC investment is comprised of an IFC loan of up to USD 50mn and an IFC blended finance subordinated loan of up to USD 50mn. In addition, the project will benefit from an IDA private sector liquidity guarantee of up to USD 65mn.

RUA is owned by Release Management B.V. (Netherlands), which is entirely owned by Scatec ASA, a renewable energy supplier that specialises in developing, constructing, owning and operating solar, wind and hydropower plants and storage solutions. Scatec’s largest shareholders are Equinor ASA (16%) Folketrygdfondet (9%) and Scatec Innovation (9%).