According to a US Power Africa fact sheet, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country of over 85 million people, has a “national electricity access rate of just 9%, with 1% in rural areas and 19% in urban areas”.
This shows the enormity of the supply gap and the large renewable energy investment opportunities in the country—and the DRC is but one example across the vast African continent, writes Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman of Board of Directors, Genesis Energy.
Consequently, the huge amount of capital project construction expenditure needed to meet the extant electricity supply gap across Africa makes for substantially compelling positive investment opportunities in the power space.
This gap, coupled with the urgent need to meet the deadline of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 – particularly SDG7 – means that the opportunity for the power sector to light up Africa is consequentially enormous, to say the least.
SDG7 seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Most African countries recognise that gas-operated power plants alone are unable to meet the urgent power demand. As such, they are tilting their policy thrusts towards encouraging investments in renewable energy solutions including hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear.
Profiling mini-hydro as a renewable energy investment option
Mini-hydro plants, for example, are a valuable part of Africa’s energy mix and can be developed with minimal or no negative social and environmental impacts. Mini-hydro solutions can be set up in virtually all parts of Africa. Their sustainability for stand-alone utilisation in the rural areas can be justified by noting that many viable mini-hydro scale plants are actually run-of-river schemes, which are based on water wheels that require minimal civil works.
Genesis Energy (GENESIS) is primed to deploy multiple units of modular mini-hydropower plants across several qualifying communities in Africa, in partnership with highly capable international companies, including Voith-Germany. It is GENESIS’s ambition that these multiple off-grid small hydro investments will act as needed catalysts in stimulating improved socio-economic activities within the rural communities and beyond.
The attractiveness of innovative mini-hydro modular run-of-river solutions, besides the speed of deployment on fast track basis with little or no civil construction, includes the financing solution of potential funding to be provided by several multilateral developmental institutions and national credit agencies of up to 85% of the equipment cost; single-digit fixed interest rate and the long term repayment period of up to 20 years.
These renewable energy solutions can be deployed to existing electricity grids as necessary ‘complimentors’ or limited to an end-user community. There is also the option of the location through minigrids, which ensures that communities not competitively served by national grids can still be served with modern, competitively priced and clean power in a sustainable way.