Ubbink opens East African PV module factory

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According to a statement released, Ubbink East Africa Ltd is currently producing over 100 modules a day. The aim is to manufacture around 30,000 annually.

A spokesperson for the company additionally told pv magazine that 30 people are currently employed there. It is hoped, however, that this number will increase to between 40 and 50 by the end of the year. The employees were all trained by Ubbink in the Netherlands.

The crystalline photovoltaic modules produced are suited for smaller, off-grid solar systems. They will be used, for example, in private residences, lighting in schools, and for water supply and telecommunications purposes. They range in size from 13 to 125 watts peak.

Ubbink East Africa CEO Haijo Kuper commented, "Our solar factory – the first in the whole of East and Central Africa – is also kick starting local industry. Within the space of a year, we managed to qualify more than 30 employees for a technology that is completely new for East Africa and which is our contribution to the continent’s ongoing development."

The financial sum invested in the factory was not disclosed. However, the spokesperson said that it did not run into the millions. Half of the funds came from the Dutch Government’s fund for renewable energies in underdeveloped countries. The other half, meanwhile, came from both Ubbink and Ubbink’s partner, Chloride Exide.

"This is a first step," said the spokesperson. They added that while capacity is expected to ramp up, it will do so steadily, rather than quickly.

Ubbink East Africa produced its first Kenyan photovoltaic module back in March.