Actis Unveils $1.9 Billion Pan-African Renewable Energy Joint Venture
On Feb. 17, U.K. private equity firm Actis announced a $1.9 billion joint venture with energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power to build a series of wind and solar projects throughout Africa over the next three years. The joint-venture company, named Lekela Power, plans to produce between 700 megawatts and 900 megawatts of power from wind and solar projects in South Africa, Ghana, and Egypt.
Each of Lekela Power’s projects will have a separate development timeline and will be financed through both equity and debt. Three wind projects in the Northern Cape of South Africa are projected to generate a combined 360 megawatts. In Ghana, the Ayitepa wind project will generate 225 megawatts, and the Egyptian wind and solar plants will produce another 100 megawatts. Lekela Power is the eighth renewable energy initiative for Actis, which has previously launched ventures of this kind in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America.
Due to its climate and resources, the African continent is an attractive location for renewables investment. However, this potential for renewable electricity generation is largely untapped and many African countries are dependent on fossil fuels including coal and oil. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, South Africa uses coal for almost three-quarters of its energy generation. More than half of Egypt’s energy comes from natural gas and over 40 percent comes from oil. In both countries, renewables barely generate 1 percent of electricity.
Many African countries, including South Africa, suffer from frequent rolling blackouts as utilities struggle with aging infrastructure and financial constraints. The African Development Bank has noted that remedying Africa’s chronic electricity shortages could boost Africa’s overall GDP by up to 4 percent. Joint ventures like Lekela Power have the potential to be part of the solution. The soaring demand for renewable energy and improved regulations in many African nations appear to lay a foundation for increased and diversified energy investment on the continent in the next decade.