Rockefeller fund takes stake in Mainstream’s African venture

Lekela renewable energy joint venture plans 1.3 gigawatts of power projects by 2018

Lekela Power is  an African wind and solar energy joint venture set up by Mainstream and British-based private equity firm Actis.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Lekela Power is an African wind and solar energy joint venture set up by Mainstream and British-based private equity firm Actis. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a philanthropic foundation set up by a family which made its fortune in oil, has emerged as a shareholder in the main African renewable energy joint venture of Eddie O’Connor’s Mainstream Renewable Power.

The fund joins investors including International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank, that have bought a $117.5 million stake in Lekela Power, an African wind and solar energy joint venture set up by Mainstream and British-based private equity firm Actis.

The other, previously revealed, main investors include Ascension Investment Management in Missouri, which adheres to Catholic-based socially responsible investing guidelines, and South African financial services group Sanlam.

“The teaming-up of the world’s leading independent renewable power developer with a foundation started by members of the family that effectively founded the global oil industry is a significant moment in the world’s transition to a new power system based on clean energy,” said Mr O’Connor, chief executive of Dublin-based Mainstream.

Mr O’Connor said in an interview with The Irish Times in May the new $117.5 million investment will help Mainstream maintain its 40 per cent stake in Lekela as it expands rapidly. The new investors would effectively take a 24 per cent holding in the venture, he said at the time.

The funding package will help Lekela meet its goal of constructing over 1.3 gigawatts of new power capacity in Africa by 2018, while addressing the challenge of climate change, Mainstream said on Thursday. Lekela operates in several countries including South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Senegal.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was created in 1940 by the sons of John D Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, more than a century ago, “to advance social change and a more just, sustainable and peaceful world”, according to its website.

Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund said: “I’m confident that if John D Rockefeller were alive today, he too would recognise the enormous opportunities in the clean-energy economy and be at the forefront of the global shift to renewable resources.”