Access Infra Africa is a new investment entity for developing clean, renewable energy in Africa. Below is an interview with Reda El Chaar, Chairman of Access Power MEA.
1. Press about your work refers to an investment “vehicle,” could you break down exactly what this vehicle is and how it works?
EREN and Access jointly launched Access Infra Africa, which is the largest fully privately funded investment vehicle looking to invest in early stage renewable energy projects in Africa. The partners intend to implement an ambitious development plan leading to the realization of a portfolio of power assets in Africa worth over US$500 million. We plan to grow the vehicle to such size in the next three years.
2. Who are or will be your main investors?
Access and EREN are joint investors in Access Infra Africa.
3. What kind of return do you anticipate on the development of solar power projects in Africa?
Our returns differ from project to project, depending on a variety of factors. As such, we do not have a defined return for projects.
4. Will you develop any other renewable energy projects in Africa, such as geothermal or wind power?
Yes, AIA will look at a range of projects including wind, solar and hydro projects. In addition, we will also look at potential hybrid projects (a combination of conventional and non-conventional).
5. How many jobs are created locally when you construct a solar power plant, typically?
Depending on the size of the project, could be from a few hundred to thousand plus.
6. What size solar power plants will you typically work with?
The average size of solar power projects will be 10–50 MW (megawatts).
7. Do you expect energy storage solutions to be paired with new solar power plants now or in the future?
Maybe in the future.
8. How do you choose sites for potential new solar power plants?
We evaluate opportunities on a case-by-case basis. The unifying factor is strong demand for energy production in a given location and conditions that are suitable for energy production.
9. How do you work with local authorities to stay in compliance with local laws when you develop a new solar project?
Access Power works closely with governments on a local level to ensure we adhere to the required regulations and standards. This includes a constant dialogue with authorities while tendering for projects. Some recent examples of that include our activity in Uganda and Egypt.
10. What does your road map for solar power development in Africa look like for the next 3–5 years?
Africa’s energy sector and wider economy could be transformed by the billions of dollars of project financing available for later-stage developments. Solar power has the potential to become one of the main sources of energy in Africa, but what is lacking is a pipeline of high-quality projects. In partnership with EREN, we are planning to develop a range of high quality concepts into bankable projects, thereby playing a leading role in bringing energy safety to the millions of people in Africa.
Author’s note: renewables are a long-term energy source because solar power systems can provide clean energy for 25 years. Over two decades of reliable energy is a good basis for economic growth. Installing renewables locally means less fossil fuel is needed, which is typically imported at an unfavorable cost.