How a UAE Company is Powering DR Congo with Solar Energy

The DRC Green Giant project is part of a larger trend of increasing investments in solar energy in Africa.

by Motoni Olodun

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden countries in the world. Despite its vast natural resources, including the world’s largest hydropower potential, it suffers from chronic electricity shortages that hamper its social and economic development. According to the World Bank, only 19% of the population had access to electricity in 2019, and the average per capita consumption was 105 kWh, compared to the global average of 3,153 kWh.

But a new project aims to change that by harnessing the power of the sun. The UAE-based company SkyPower Global has bagged a contract from the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) to install a 200-megawatt clean energy plant in DR Congo. Spanned over four phases, the first phase of the DRC Green Giant project will cost $200 million (Dh734 million) and create 6,000 job years, Kerry Adler, president and CEO of SkyPower, told Khaleej Times in an interview.

He said this 200MW Phase 1 is a crucial step in realizing the 1,000MW Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed with the Congo’s state-owned utility, Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL). The project is expected to be fully operational in 18-24 months, Adler said, adding that the project will have a direct and indirect impact of $700 million to the African country’s GDP.

DR Congo president Félix Tshisekedi aims for a significant boost to the country’s clean energy output, contributing to a projected $2.3 billion stimulus to the African nation’s GDP and the creation of approximately 30,000 job years. “Partnering with SkyPower, an institution known for their decades of global expertise in large-scale solar projects, is well aligned with our mission to advance energy access on the continent through renewable energy,” said Amadou Wadda, senior director of project development and technical solutions at AFC.

“Through this collaboration, we aim to contribute significantly to rapid industrialization, local job creation, sustainable economic growth, and a pragmatic transition to net zero in DRC and Africa as a whole,” he said. Kerry Adler noted that the agreement underlines AFC’s pivotal contribution to promoting renewable energy solutions in the African continent.

The DRC Green Giant project is part of a larger trend of increasing investments in solar energy in Africa, where the electricity demand is expected to grow by 6% annually until 2040, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Several countries, such as Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa, have launched ambitious solar projects to meet their energy needs and reduce their carbon footprint.

The IEA estimates that solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Africa could reach 320 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 5 GW in 2019, making it the fastest-growing renewable energy source on the continent. Solar energy also offers a cost-effective and reliable alternative to fossil fuels and diesel generators, which are often used to power off-grid communities and businesses.

SkyPower Global, which has a portfolio of over 25 GW of solar projects worldwide, said it is committed to supporting the African continent’s transition to clean energy and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The company also plans to launch several corporate social responsibility initiatives in DR Congo, such as providing free solar-powered mobile charging stations, LED lights, and bicycles to rural communities.

Source: Zawya

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