HomeFeatures/AnalysisExclusive interview with Kwame Parker, Executive and Regional Head Power & Infrastructure...

Exclusive interview with Kwame Parker, Executive and Regional Head Power & Infrastructure , Stanbic

Kwame_ParkerKwame is a featured keynote speaker on the opening day of EAPIC on 21 September. Stanbic Bank is also a gold sponsor of the event.

1)    Let’s start with some background of Stanbic Bank’s Power and Infrastructure activities in the East African region?
Stanbic, as part of the Standard Bank Group, is focused on power and infrastructure primarily in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. We’ve been involved in many of the larger power project financings in Kenya, such as 300mw Lake Turkana Wind Park, the 83mw Triumph Power and the 80mw Gulf Power plants, and in Uganda we led the IPO of the major Ugandan distribution company UMEME in 2012. We also led a U$D60m syndicated loan to KPLC in 2015.

2)    Any particular projects in the energy sector that you are involved in that you are particularly excited about?
Yes; we’re particularly excited about funding private geothermal development in Kenya, and about financing off-grid solar solutions. There are a lot of innovations going on in the off-grid space and we want to be part of this growth.

3)    What in your view are the main challenges to financing energy projects in the region?
Generally, the issues involve the lack of existing frameworks for transactions. Many of the things we do are being done for the first time, which adds costs and extends timelines. Other issues include the challenge in obtaining government guarantees where the investor community feels that they are critical, and also issues of land and site acquisition and control often pop up.  but i would say on the whole all these items are slowly being tackled as governments gain an appreciation for what needs to be done to ensure the bankability of projects; a perfect example of this is the “get fit” program in Uganda that has greatly increased the bankability of small renewable energy projects, and has shrunken timelines and costs to financial close for these types of projects.

4)    What is your vision for the industry?
My vision is a future where power is no longer an impediment to East African growth, so that we can focus on other areas of the economy that need fixing or improving, such as the road network, agriculture and value-additive industry. I would also like to see the development of a liquid East African Power Pool, so that power can be traded at market prices between East African nations. This also speaks to the need to get our transmission and distribution grids up to par.

5)    You have partnered with EAPIC as gold sponsors – what will be your message at the event?
My message is that Standard Bank, with its broad reach across the African continent and an experienced power & infrastructure team based in Nairobi, is the perfect partner for developers and companies looking to grow their power businesses in East Africa. Our offering spans advisory, arranging, lending, and business banking services.  We’re happy to work with EAPIC to share our views and experiences with the conference delegates and hopefully we can be helpful to current and prospective entrants into the market.

6)    Anything you would like to add?
East Africa is a dynamic location for power and infrastructure development. the growth is real, and governments in the region are willing to try new solutions to solve their power and infrastructure bottlenecks. For investors with the stamina to work through complex issues and a healthy risk/reward appetite, East Africa is the place to be.