January 21, 2014

A Jenner & Block team has played a significant role in the development of the largest solar energy facility in Central Africa.  The project will bring much-needed electricity to parts of Rwanda while also providing critical funding for the education and housing of 500 orphaned survivors of the Rwandan genocide.

The firm represented pro bono the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a non-sectarian United States charity that operates a residential and educational community in rural Rwanda.  ASYV’s mission is “to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, health care, education and necessary life skills.”  ASYV is modeled on Yemin Orde, an Israeli youth village founded in 1953 to care for and educate orphaned survivors of the Holocaust.

The solar project will be built on ASYV’s 144-acre campus.  Gigawatt Global (a company based in the Netherlands and Israel that is a leader in the renewable-energy industry) will design, maintain and operate the first grid-connected solar energy facility in Rwanda.  Electricity from the facility will be sold to the Rwandan government through an updated power grid and will bring electricity to ASYV and surrounding parts of Rwanda.  Proceeds from the sale of electricity will repay the project’s investors and also provide funding for the continued operation of ASYV.  Gigawatt Global will also provide a training program that will teach ASYV’s students solar-energy-related job skills.

After documenting financing for the project from impact investors in the U.S. over the summer of 2013, Jenner & Block represented ASYV in structuring, negotiating and documenting this innovative, sophisticated and multijurisdictional clean-energy project.  The lease on the project was signed on January 17, 2014. The solar facility was completed and in mid-September 2014, it began functioning and producing 8.5 megawatts of electricity – approximately eight percent of all grid-connected electricity in Rwanda.  

The core team for ASYV was led by Partner Patrick J. Trostle with Partner Jerry J. Burgdoerfer, Associate Ian N. Bushner and Jung Yun (Seijun) Lee, a visiting attorney from the law firm of Mori Hamada & Matsumoto in Japan.  Staff Attorney Michael S. Mandell was the lead real estate attorney on the transaction.  The multidisciplinary, multi-office team also included Partners Alexandra E. Dowling, Carter H. Klein, Michelle M. McAtee, Donald I. Resnick and Lawrence S. Schaner and Associates Leah G. Beitner, Joseph D. Kline, Natalie K. Orpett and Marc A. Roualet.

ASYV will honor Jenner & Block during a gala reception in May as the entity that has made the greatest contribution to the charity over the past year.