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Our achievements in 2020 and priorities for 2021

A Product of the 2021 Board of Directors Meeting of PUTTRU Technologies Limited

3 February, 2021 (Virtual)

1.    Recapping 2020

We started 2020 with one goal in mind: go live.

In line with this goal, we spent the most part of the year completing the alpha and beta testing of the platform.  As typical of the beta testing process, we invited real users from our customer segments: financiers, African energy companies and global energy companies. The beta testing phase ran for about two months.  

On receiving, unanimously, the greenlight from our beta testers, on 29 October 2020 PUTTRU’s digital platform was released.  

Our launch event was successful: two African energy ministers provided keynote statements, with over 250 registrants from five continents (Africa, Europe, America, Middle East and Asia) and 53 countries.  Moreover, our launch was televised by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), making it to the network news broadcasted throughout the day. See more here:  Our Digital Solution is Now Live!

Last year we finalized our partnership with the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID). This year, starting with communication activities, PUTTRU has begun the work of creating a Ready-to-Invest pipeline for EBID’s financing, either directly by EBID or through local banks, who receive the funds from EBID for on -lending to companies.

2.    Our achievements in 2020

Prior to, and since our launch, PUTTRU works through two result areas, namely: 

  • Result Area1: Effective communication to remove bottlenecks to private-sector investment and,
  • Result Area 2:  Mobilizing finance for Africa’s energy sector development.

A.   Effective communication to remove bottlenecks to private-sector investment

In line with our commitment to improve communication between governments and the private sector, the webinar had speakers from an international bank, private equity fund and a fast-expanding African energy company, in addition to the energy ministers.

What we heard from these two groups discussing, if we had to put this in one sentence, is that the public and private sector want to collaborate more to finance energy projects in Africa.

Moreover, the same sentiments were felt by the participants, with a far majority of poll respondents identifying Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) as the best suited option for African economies to meet their energy ambitions post-Covid.

Figure 1: Webinar Poll Question

Our achievements in 2020 and priorities for 2021

Here is what our participants thought of the webinar:

Although provided with Bad and Very Bad as options as well, majority of our participants thought the webinar was Very Good, approximately 65%. This was followed by Good, approximately 29% and Average, approximately 6%.

Internally, while we thought the feedback was encouraging, our assessment of our own performance was a bit more rigorous and we have challenged ourselves to do better in our next webinar.  For example, we will endeavour to make the conversation more interactive, between the speakers and audience, even if this means having fewer speakers on the panel.

At the end of the day, our goal through this effort, is to bring actors shaping the policy and investment landscape in Africa’s energy market closer to those whose lives and businesses are impacted by these actors, but who may not have access to communicate face-to-face with them, albeit virtually.

In addition to applying this as a strategy, we have been doing this (i.e., improve communication between governments and the private sector) through our Thought Leaders Series, which we started in June 2020. Last year, we interviewed government officials, economists, financiers and business owners. In 2021, we will continue with this same trend and focus.

Last year, prior to our official launch, we had kicked-off our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities targeting Youth Empowerment. Tagged #Whatwouldyoudo challenge, we launched an Africa-wide social media campaign to give African youths a say in what 2030 should look like, as far as the energy situation in Africa is concerned. Five youths were awarded prize monies ranging from US$500, for the first winner and US$ 100 for the runners-up.

B.   Mobilizing finance for Africa’s energy sector development

In line with this result area, PUTTRU has worked and continue to work in bringing together the key actors needed in the ecosystem – these are financiers, transaction advisors (advisory support specialists) and other financing enablers.

Furthermore, as we all know, the issue is not so much the availability of financing. Therefore, in addition to mobilizing financing for African energy companies, we have been active in setting up the structure for financiers to feel comfortable financing energy ventures in Africa, as well as for financiers and companies to access top-notch transaction advisors to close deals.   We recognize that more communication of these ongoing work is needed and will be done in 2021.

Last year we finalized our partnership with the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID). This year, starting with communication activities, PUTTRU has begun the work of creating a Ready-to-Invest pipeline for EBID’s financing, either directly by EBID or through local banks, who receive the funds from EBID for on -lending to companies.

To be eligible to receive financing directly from EBID, projects must meet the following conditions for the Bank’s level of intervention per loan:

  • minimum amount of about US$1.5 million;
  • maximum amount of about US$30 million for national public sector projects;
  • maximum amount of about US$45 million for regional public sectors projects;
  • maximum amount of about US$22.5 million for private sector projects.

For on-lending from local banks, the ticket size for minimum amount could go below US$ 1.5 million, but this will vary from bank to bank.  

More information on how to participate in this financing opportunity can be found in this article: A West African Project on ‘Closing the Investment gap in West Africa’s Energy Sector’.

In addition to EBID, PUTTRU is working with other DFIs to define a transformational agenda for the economies they represent. In 2021, our clients can expect more announcements of strategic partnerships for certain project-types, ticket-sizes and specific countries.

Furthermore, as we all know, the issue is not so much the availability of financing. Therefore, in addition to mobilizing financing for African energy companies, we have been active in setting up the structure for financiers to feel comfortable financing energy ventures in Africa, as well as for financiers and companies to access top-notch transaction advisors.   We recognize that more communication of these ongoing work is needed and will be done in 2021.

Also, a very important part of our work in this area has been in providing free tools for African energy companies. PUTTRU has developed a Financing-readiness Audit template to enable African Energy Companies independently assess their state of preparedness to engage with financiers, either for debt and/or equity financing. By using this audit template companies will be able to identify where they have gaps and how best to address these gaps. The free template is available in English and French.

PUTTRU has developed a Financing-readiness Audit template to enable African Energy Companies independently assess their state of preparedness to engage with financiers, either for debt and/or equity financing.

3. Lessons from 2020

A number of our target beneficiaries were still not certain of what we meant by PUTTRU being a ‘digital platform’. Investment digital platforms could be designed as data rooms where files of investment deals could be downloaded by the investor and others could be designed as online catalogues where the user could apply filters to see the sort of projects on the platform. PUTTRU is none of these, especially since the PUTTRU digital platform was designed to address the inefficiencies in these digital platform formats aforementioned.

  • Despite the fact that PUTTRU entered its operational phase on 29 October, shortly before the end of the year, the level of interest shown by members of the business ecosystem we operate in (i.e., financiers, energy companies, transaction advisors and credit insurance parties) shows that the gap PUTTRU bridges is real and deeply felt by these actors.
  • This also means that we have only just started scratching the surface as it concerns informing these actors about PUTTRU and bringing them together to work together. PUTTRU therefore needs to strengthen its external communication efforts, in order to reach out to more key actors and establish partnerships with them.
  • Still along the same lines of communicating better, when we launched, a number of our target beneficiaries were still not certain of what we meant by PUTTRU being a ‘digital platform’. Indeed, the word ‘platform’ could mean several things. Also, even digital platforms that work to connect investors to projects all have different formats. For example, some could be designed as data rooms where files of investment deals could be downloaded by the investor and others could be designed as online catalogues where the user could apply filters to see the sort of projects on the platform. PUTTRU is none of these, especially since the PUTTRU digital platform was designed to address the inefficiencies in these digital platform formats aforementioned. More communication/education on what the PUTTRU platform is about and can do is needed.  
  • A lot of technical assistance work is needed to get small-sized/early-stage energy companies ready for external financing. PUTTRU has been unable to give platform access to some companies due to the fact that these companies were not able to meet the rudimentary due diligence requirements, e.g., audited financial statements. We, nonetheless, strongly believe that these companies hold a lot of potential. It is for this reason that we developed the Financing-readiness Audit template. In addition, PUTTRU is looking at establishing partnerships with organizations that provide technical assistance targeting these small/early-stage companies

4.    Priorities for 2021

Our achievements in 2020 and priorities for 2021
  • Intensifying PUTTRU’s External Communication

PUTTRU recognizes the importance of increasing communication activities to keep our clients updated on our efforts, especially as many clients and partners have voiced the need for this. We will therefore intensify our outreach and external communication efforts this year.

While PUTTRU has obviously been busy for a company that just launched a few months ago, ensuring that our target beneficiaries are aware of the opportunities available to them should now take the front seat. Therefore, special reports, quarterly newsletters, webinars, emails, press releases and our social media platforms are avenues we will apply to get our clients updated on our activities. Moreover, we will also be intensifying our country level interactions.

The success of our Thought Leaders series show that this is an area that our clients are interested in. Our clients can therefore expect more Thought Leaders interviews in 2021.

While English was the primary language of communication last year, PUTTRU will now be using both French and English as our language of communication.

Given the amount of work needed to achieve these, PUTTRU is looking forward to establishing partnerships in the area of communication with organizations that are likeminded and would like to collaborate in any of the aforementioned avenues.

  • Strategic Partnerships

Establishing strategic partnerships are a core part of our operations, especially if we are to achieve our goal of making our business ecosystem efficient, that is the situations and interactions influencing investment for energy projects in Africa.

Prior to our Board of Directors meeting on 3 February, PUTTRU held a few meetings with potential strategic partners. With work operations now resuming fully in many organizations, we are looking at increasing the number of partnership-building efforts we implement and report on monthly.

As stated above, the key areas for partnerships and collaborations are with: financiers, transaction advisors, technical assistance and other forms of enablers.

  • Mobilizing additional financing and closing investment deals

PUTTRU’s geographical focus is the entire 55 countries of the African continent, although we are currently prioritizing sub-Saharan Africa.

This therefore means that in 2021 PUTTRU will endeavour to extend its operations, specifically as it concerns mobilizing financing for the energy sector, beyond the West African region.

It is important to note that a sub-Saharan Africa strategy has been in place prior to now. During the launch of PUTTRU, the webinar was endorsed by the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), we had the minister of Zambia (represented) and the attendance of individuals from all over Africa.

In addition to mobilising financing, a key focus will be on ensuring that companies meet the requirements for financing and that investment deals are close.

Does any part of our priorities for 2021 speak to you? Write to us at: info@puttru.com

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Schedule a call with us to learn more.

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