Funding the largest (22MW) solar plant in Zimbabwe with community ownership scheme

 

Two-thirds of Africans – 620 million people – still do not have access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern electricity”, one of the UN’s key Sustainable Development Goals. Decades of neglect and mismanagement have left Africa with some of the world’s worst-functioning grid systems.

 

Africa’s energy deficit continues to stifle economic growth, job creation, agricultural transformation, and improvements in health and education. To achieve development goals in Africa and globally, it is essential that the continent’s leaders address the global energy issues: how to power the socio-economic transformation of their countries by providing electricity that is reliable, clean and affordable for all.

 

While South Africa remains shackled to energy generation from fossil fuels, the rest of the continent is investing in renewable energy to “bring power to their people.”

 

The return on investment of renewable energy is increasing because the projects are more cost effective in the medium to long term and take less time to build, compared with major fossil fuel-based power plants. Renewable power plants are also easier to deploy and can be developed closer to the source of demand through microgeneration, which enables rural and remote areas to benefit.

 

For African investors, this holds tremendous potential, which is why the Ecsponent group will be investing in the pan African renewable energy company, Investor Solar Africa Limited. This clean energy investor from Botswana which is an independent power producer (IPP), has concluded development and funding activities to develop a 22-Megawatt peak (MWp) utility scale project at $US23 million*.

 

Construction on the Havara project on 40 hectares of land in the Bwoni Village, Seke Rural District which is located South West of the city of Harare is scheduled to commence in mid-November. The local villagers of the Bwoni Community shall own 10% of this project through a Community Development Share Ownership Trust.

 

With this investment and others announced during the past financial year, Ecsponent’s equity holdings portfolio has expanded significantly in value and across diverse territories and currencies.

 

* Of the total project cost, US$7 million was raised from Old Mutual Asset Management Zimbabwe and Norsad Finance provided funding of US$5 million. The balance of the project funding was raised through Invest Solar Africa, backed by Ecsponent Limited. Invest Solar Africa is expected to list on the Botswana stock exchange by the end of 2018.

 

Solar energy can bring relief to starving millions

Characteristic of a developing economy, SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) make up a large portion of South Africa’s business environment, indicating a strong promise of future growth. Just over 90% of legitimate businesses in the country can be categorised in the SME sector, employing well over half the workforce, and accounting for just over a third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

Sub-Saharan Africa’s food security is under threat. This tragedy meant that in 2016, around 224 million people in the region were seriously undernourished. To put it mildly, the situation is deteriorating by the day. At current growth rates, Africa is expected to be able to feed only 13% of its population with its own resources by 2050.

 

World Food Day is celebrated annually around the world in honour of the founding date of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with the objective of creating awareness around issues of global food insecurity. The theme for this year was: Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty.

 

The case for investing in renewables to promote food security

Renewable energy, especially solar power, can make a significant contribution to improving people’s general quality of life; their access to water, technology and information; education; food preparation options; and employment.

Opportunities for investment in these technologies are abundant and promising. Investing in solar power, in particular, could yield dividends in at least four areas that modernise the agricultural sector.

This article was written by Ecsponent CEO, Terence Gregory and originally published by BizNis Africa. Read it here: www.biznisafrica.com/renewable-energy-and-food-security-trends-in-africa

 

Africa’s electricity opportunities

 

  •  < 1/3 of people in sub-Saharan Africa have regular access to electrical power
  • 8/10 people in sub-Saharan Africa use open fires to cook and heat their homes
  • > 50% of African businesses report that their operations and growth are affected by the lack of access to reliable power
  • The region’s current average electrification rate is equal to China’s rate back in 1970
  • $19 billion investment is required annually to achieve universal electricity access by 2030

 

 Source: International Energy Agency and the Center for Global Development