Combating power shortages in Sierra Leone

16 August 2016

In 2015 a team that included Gowling WLG partners Jonathan Brufal, Gareth Baker and senior associate Tom Gray worked with Africa Growth and Energy Services (AGES) to support a landmark renewable energy project in Sierra Leone, which suffers from a severe power shortage.

The project, which included providing advice on corporate structuring and negotiating, and the drafting a series of project documents - including power purchase and implementation agreements, will lead to the creation of a solar farm capable of producing up to 20MW, providing electricity to the cities of Bo and Kenema.

The project was a truly cross-border effort, with Jonathan and Tom based in Dubai, Gareth in the UK, and the project being located in Africa. Jonathan led on the project, assisted by Tom, and the pair visited Sierra Leone to negotiate the project with Government officials, including from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and the Ministry of Energy. The team also liaised closely with local counsel in Sierra Leone to best understand the Government's needs and the economic situation.

The success of the project, which is the first of its kind in a market new to IPP/PPP transactions, has led to further work with AGES in Cameroon where the team is working on a mini hydro plant in the south west region; and the development of a concession agreement to solarise a number of telephone masts in rural areas.

"We are very grateful to the team at Gowling WLG for its support in moving this deal forward. AGES first spoke to Jonathan and Tom at the very outset of the project and they, along with other lawyers in the firm, have made an invaluable contribution towards getting the deal to where it is today. Hopefully we will work together in the future on similar projects."
Albert Smith, director of international business development at AGES.

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