In Africa, most countries lack adequate power supply, a key resource needed in furthering the development agenda in the continent.
Lack or reliable power grids is a major obstacle to industrializing the continent’s economies; to empower them transition from commodities producer to a manufacturing hub. By 2015, Africa needed at least $450 billion in power investment to halve blackouts and attain electricity access for all in urban areas by 2040. Green power is one sure way of ensuring that the region is connected to environmental friendly electricity.
While financial challenge has been the main reason why Africa still lags behind in matters concerning electricity, today, the continent is oversupplied in funds targeted for green power, Bloomberg reported. In fact, Africa is short of people needed to install green power in the continent.
“There is a significant shortage of skills on the ground, particularly at a project manager and site manager level,” said Adam Bruce, head of corporate affairs at Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., a closely-held developer based in Dublin, South Africa. This he said is “caused by the fact that the renewables sector is growing so fast in the region.”
With about 645 million people in the continent lacking access to electricity, organizations from the European Union, United Nations and US Agency for International Development have stepped in to provide aid. To cut down on the overuse of fossil fuel which is eroding the atmosphere and to boost carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, deliberate efforts must be employed to enhance the use of green power.
Targeted at installing 1.3 gigawatts of power in four African countries (South Africa, Egypt, Senegal, and Ghana) by 2018, Mainstream is spearheading the Lekela Power platform, investing $1.9 billion venture into the project. The power platform is a Pan-African renewable energy generation project aimed at delivering utility-scale wind and solar projects into commercial operation in Africa over the next five years. It is positioned to provide secure, reliable and competitive renewable energy to consumers such as government, utilities, and large-scale industrial consumers.
Antony Marsh, chief executive officer, Frontier Markets Fund Managers Ltd. in London notes that renewables in Africa do not experience a shortage of debt. “Multilateral banks and development funds are almost competing amongst themselves to provide money,” he added.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual clean-energy investments in sub-Saharan Africa more than doubled to $5.4 billion in 2015. The London-based researcher expects over 12 gigawatts of new wind, solar and geothermal power installed in the region in the next four years. By the end of this decade, the African Development Bank estimates that $55 billion would be needed annually to light up the continent.
“The power sector has proven to be quite profitable,” John Abdulai Jinapor, Ghana’s acting power minister, said last month at a renewable energy conference in London. “If you talk to most of the companies that have invested in Ghana, they are thinking of expanding,” the outlet said.
To meet these gaps, Mainstream is planning on “employing large numbers of local people during the construction process and has a commitment to systematically transferring skills locally,” Mainstream’s Bruce said adding that the company is “trying to retain existing talent by paying market-related salaries and benefits and creating a healthy and stimulating work environment.”
To implement the project, Lekela Power platform has partnered with International Financial Corp. and Actis LLP.
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