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Top view: distributed Power Africa fights for access to affordable capital


Eric Scotto told fDi. TheZambian government launched its feed-


in-tariff strategy ‘Get FiT’ in 2018. The largest in the region, it awarded 120MW in solar tender projects the following year, in a bid to increase electricity generation and diversify its power mix away from hydropower. Last year, the country’s state-owned electric-


ity company Zesco partnered with PowerChina toadd600MWtothegrid,throughthree200MW solarparks at a total valueof$548m.This follows the China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Co-operation’s comple- tion of the 50MW Garissa solar power station in northeast Kenya — one of the largest in central and eastern Africa—in 2019.


Different kind of FDI RasmusLema, associate professor in innovation and development at Aalborg University Business School, Denmark, and Padmasai Lakshmi Bhamidipati, a postdoctoral researcher at UNEP DTU Partnership, who recently penned a paper on the rapid increase of Chinese involvement in large-scale renewa- ble-energy infrastructure projects in Africa, contend that this is a “completely different kind of FDI”. At the heart of the issue is the fact that,


unlike typical renewable projects — which bring together awhole host of different donors, financiers, and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors — projects with Chinese energycompanies have Chinese financ- ing, Chinese engineering, procurement and construction, and Chinese technology suppli- ers.


This raises the question as to whether these


bundled projects become “enclave” projects and offer little lasting impact to the local com- munity, Ms Bhamidipati asserts. The main concern is that renewables in


Africa are being dominated by foreign compa- nies, Mr Lema says. “The jury is still out on how dominant China is going to be. In terms of elec- trification and getting prices down, China is extremely important.” Given the scale of the energy crisis in the


June/July 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


region, the arrival of expertise, technology and power is necessary. Yet the populationis explod- ing so fast that these alternative energy solu- tions need to outpace such demographic issues if they’re really going to solve the region’s power problems, many reaffirm. Africa needs a high-energy future to


industrialise and withstand the impact of cli- mate change, Mr Attia says. “The trajectory is not nearly steep enough. The primary solu- tion is renewables, but the pace is much too slow,” he says. ■


AFRICA’S BIGGEST MISSED OPPORTUNITY? SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC POTENTIAL* ANDON-GRID INSTALLED CAPACITY (2018) BY COUNTRY


Source: World Bank • Average practical potential (PVOUT Level 1, kWh/kWp/day), long-term 79


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