EXIM approves $86m commitment to support U.S. aid in Senegal's renewable energy sector
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) approved a preliminary commitment to the Republic of Senegal for approximately $86 million in financing that would support U.S. exports of services, and electrical and renewable-energy equipment by Weldy-Lamont LLC, a small-business engineering firm in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, for a rural electrification project.
The Chicago-area company was selected for the project over foreign competition being supported by other governments, including China.
The preliminary commitment is the first that EXIM has approved under the agency’s recently signed memorandum of understanding with Senegal’s Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation. If the transaction reaches final board approval, EXIM would provide funding for an estimated $100 million rural electrification project of the Senegal National Electricity Agency (Senelac), which would be the borrower of the financing and the buyer of the exports. The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation would provide a sovereign guarantee of the financing.
For the project, Weldy-Lamont is anticipated to source from a large U.S. supply chain to procure American-manufactured electrical and solar-energy equipment, as well as a variety of services. EXIM’s financing could support an estimated 500 American jobs in 14 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
“This project is an important step forward for American companies in sub-Saharan Africa to provide the goods and services needed for the region’s economic development while supporting employment in the United States,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross, an ex officio member of EXIM’s board of directors. “This deal also further opens the door for additional sales for U.S. companies to increase exports to this dynamic region—supporting even more jobs at home and greatly benefiting the African countries that are buying the highest quality ‘Made in America’ products and services.”
“Weldy-Lamont’s selection for this project by the Republic of Senegal is in no small part the result of a whole-of-government approach involving high-level U.S. government interagency collaboration to achieve a strategic realignment of Senegal’s ability to consider non-Chinese and non-European sources of goods and services. This project and EXIM’s preliminary commitment also represent our serious dedication to President Trump’s Prosper Africa initiative,” said EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed.
In addition to EXIM, other federal agencies involved in promoting the selection of Weldy-Lamont for the project include the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
“The availability of EXIM’s financing was critical to this American company winning the project against foreign competition that was being supported by the Chinese government. This transaction fully meets EXIM’s requirement of additionality—bringing EXIM’s export credit to a transaction where financing would not be available otherwise to support U.S. exports in an emerging market,” Chairman Reed noted.
“EXIM is committed to partnering with sub-Saharan countries and helping U.S. businesses—especially small businesses—to expand their sales in Africa,” said EXIM Board Member Judith D. Pryor. “If the application reaches a final commitment, it also will demonstrate EXIM’s dedication to meeting three of our congressional mandates—support for America’s small businesses, promoting renewable-energy exports, and U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa.”
“This project is a win-win for Senegal and America. It will bring electricity to many rural citizens in Senegal while also supporting local jobs,” said EXIM Board Member Spencer Bachus. “When finally approved, EXIM’s financing will support not only the exports of one U.S. small business but also an estimated 500 jobs in their supply chain across America.”
EXIM’s financing would support Senelac’s procurement of design, engineering, procurement, and construction services by Weldy-Lamont—as well as U.S.-made electrical distribution and solar energy-generation equipment—for the extension of Senegal’s grid system into rural areas throughout the country.
The proposed project will consist of low-voltage power lines along existing roads to rural villages, with more remote villages to be served by the establishment of a “micro-grid” of stand-alone solar units and limited low-voltage lines.
The completed project will reduce the need for community-based diesel generation of electricity and will connect an estimated 500 communities to the grid, with more than 50 additional communities to be supplied with electricity through the off-grid power plants. The project is anticipated to deliver electrical service for up to an estimated 440,000 Senegalese who are currently without power.
A preliminary commitment is a non-binding offer of EXIM financing subject to the award of the export contract and EXIM’s review of an application for a final commitment. Conversion to a final commitment requires authorization by EXIM’s board of directors and is subject to the satisfaction of all conditions, policies, and legal requirements of the agency under its charter and as determined by the board.