Key takeaways from Powerelec Kenya


The recent Renewable Energy Forum Africa (REFA) highlighted Africa's renewable energy potential. Organized by AFSIA and SolarPower Europe and supported by Get-Invest, the event took place in Kenya alongside Powerelec EXPO at the Sarit Center Expo in Nairobi from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6.

It featured more than 100 exhibitors, 300 delegates, and panel discussions on topics like C&I financing, market value, investment opportunities in Mozambique, and net metering. One session estimated Africa's renewable market to be worth approximately $350 billion, with investors seeking impact, reasonable returns, and manageable risk.

“We are improving the profitability of mini-grids through a number of different levers, such as driving synergies with SHS through a multi-technology approach,” Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO of ENGIE Energy Access.

According to Inocencia Gujamo, the coordinator of electrification in Mozambique the government of Mozambique wants to promote renewable energy.

“We aim to achieve 100% renewable access by 2030 and 64% electricity access next year. Currently, we have 51% electricity access in Mozambique,” said Gujamo.

Another topic was about projects and issues facing minigrids.

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“Not all rural last-mile sites look the same. They look very different, with some sites doing fine with approximately 50% capex grant as the subsidy while others need a more significant subsidy and others doing fine with less than 50%,” said Julie Greene, managing director of Renewvia Solar Africa. “We have seen that there has only been one financing model that works for some sites and others. To reach last-mile customers, we need to look at the actual sites and see where to apply mini-grids and SHS because these are distributed communities.”

According to Sanjeev Debipersad, the director of Investments Portfolio AECF, there is plenty of funding available. “How do we transition away from the dependencies on grants?” he asked.

“We need to step back before approaching the villages and precede with other instruments that help de-risk the minigrid,” said Debipersad. “For example, SME’s stimulations.”

Sanjeev noted challenges faced by African minigrids, including the need for track records and feasibility studies to attract financiers. Some companies are using their portfolios to access financing, improving risk appetite and enabling guarantee providers to participate.

The discussion also covered net metering, with implementation observed in Mauritius (5 kW max), Morocco, Namibia (500 kW max), Senegal, South Africa (100 kW max), Tunisia, and Zimbabwe (100 kW max).

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