AFC, SkyPower Sign Agreement for Construction Mega Solar Plant in DRC

8 Mar 2024
AFC, SkyPower Sign Agreement for Construction Mega Solar Plant in DRC

Last month, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), an instrumental infrastructure financier entered into a joint development agreement with UAE-based SkyPower Global for the development of SkyPower’s Green Giant solar power station in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to a statement from AFC, the agreement will catalyse the development of the first phase of the project. The first phase involves the construction of 200MW of the total 1,000MW capacity set to be built by the public-private partnership company SkyPower Green Giant. The construction is expected to commence in 2025, following the securing of all necessary approvals and land allocation. 

Amadou Wadda, Senior Director of Project Development and Technical Solutions at Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), noted that the collaboration aims “to contribute significantly to rapid industrialisation, local job creation, sustainable economic growth and a pragmatic transition to net zero in DRC and Africa as a whole.”
Kerry Adler, President & Chief Executive Officer of SkyPower, noted that the “agreement underlines AFC's pivotal contribution to promoting renewable energy solutions and both AFC and SkyPower’s unwavering commitment and dedication to ensuring a greener, more resilient world.”

In 2020, SkyPower and DRC’s national utility, Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL), signed a power purchase agreement for 1,000MW of capacity to be provided by the plant. At the time of the PPA signing, The government estimated that the project would contribute about $2.3 billion to DRC’s GDP, create over 30,000 jobs, and serve as a blueprint for public-private partnerships encouraging foreign direct investments in the country. President Felix Tshisekedi noted that the project aligns with his presidential commitment to improving the DRC’s electrification rates through clean energy via private partnerships.

Speaking on the strengths of both partners, the AFC highlights that SkyPower has global experience developing large-scale solar projects, while the AFC has successfully de-risked and distributed capital for well-structured power and other infrastructure projects across Africa. The AFC has invested US$13 billion across Africa since its inception in 2007. 

Closing the energy access deficit

Despite huge resources, including an estimated 100GW of hydro potential, electricity access in the DRC remains one of the lowest on the continent as only 17% of its over 95 million people have access to electricity. In rural areas, it is 1%.

According to the World Bank, about half of the DRC’s installed hydropower capacity, about 2.5GW is currently not operational. Lack of access to affordable capital remains a challenge to maintaining and operating the infrastructure needed to increase power supply. The government believes that PPP projects like these will encourage the entrance of more private capital into the power sector. However, success will still require significant regulatory reforms to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the electricity market in the DRC.

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