World Bank mandates 500 MW of new solar capacity for Zambia

Southern African nation Zambia has this week received the greenlight from the World Bank to receive funding and support for the development of 500 MW of new solar PV capacity.

Having last year partnered with the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program for the development of 50 MW of solar, this second mandate is set to accelerate the country’s renewable energy aims. Last year’s tender attracted a tariff of $0.0602/kWh, which is a non-indexed tariff equivalent over the contract life to a price as low as $0.047/kWh. The new mandate will begin with an initial procurement round of 200 MW, and in March the Request for Qualifications for round two will be released.

Zambia’s government and winning developers are currently finalizing their agreements, and further details of where and when the solar projects will be built is expected in May. The first winning bidder was approved by the World Bank on Monday, and will receive a financial package and further guarantees via the Scaling Solar program. The second winner is to be reviewed in the coming weeks.

Leading the mandate is the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Zambia, which is to work closely with the World Bank and the Ministry of Energy to oversee the projects, which are likely to take the form of up to four individual large-scale solar parks ranging from 50 MW to 100 MW in size.

For Zambia, the opportunity to develop renewable energy capacity is being grasped with gusto. The landlocked nation regularly suffers from power outages that can last for up to ten hours a day, and one in five people living in the country currently has no access to electricity.

“The partnership between Scaling Solar and IDC Zambia is successfully delivering the affordable renewable energy needed to ease the country’s ongoing energy crisis,” said IFC Director of Eastern and Southern Africa, Oumar Seydi. “Access to electricity is vital for achieving development goals. In Zambia, Scaling Solar has helped create a market that will make it easier for the public and private sectors to work together to meet the country’s energy needs and expand opportunities for families and businesses.”

Scaling Solar projects are currently active in four countries – Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia and Madagascar – with more than 1.2 GW of solar capacity being tendered. The World Bank has confirmed that it will roll-out the scheme to other regions, namely the Middle East and Asia, in the coming months.