Render of the planned Redstone solar power project Northern Cape, South Africa (SolarReserve)

Africa solar power boosted by $1bn US funding

23 September 2015 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

The US government’s development bank, OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation), has approved more than $1bn in new financing and insurance support to private sector infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia.

Commitments include a 100 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in South Africa and a power grid upgrade in Pakistan, OPIC said last week.

In South Africa, OPIC will provide up to $400m in financing for the Redstone CSP plant planned for Northern Cape, being developed by US-based company SolarReserve and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power.

“These projects show the transformative impact that the US private sector can have in the developing world, and we look forward to their successes in supporting clean power and inclusive growth in Asia and Africa”– Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC president

Also in South Africa, OPIC is providing $250m to the Standard Bank to finance power generation and infrastructure projects in OPIC-eligible countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Pakistan, the company K-Electric will use an OPIC investment guarantee of up to $250m to undertake a comprehensive power grid upgrade in Karachi.

In Myanmar, Apollo Towers will use OPIC political risk insurance and up to $250 million in financing to develop a network of 2,500 telecommunications towers across the country. Only three percent of Myanmar’s 50 million residents had access to mobile phones in 2011. Apollo Towers’s scheme will help the goal of achieving 75% mobile access by 2016.

Elsewhere, YES Bank of India will use an OPIC investment guarantee of up to $250m to increase lending to micro, small and medium enterprises in underserved markets across India, including women and rural borrowers.

The projects “are significant in both vision and volume,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s president and CEO.

“Both YES Bank and Standard Bank are lenders with a broad reach in developing markets, extending the impact OPIC can make through local partnerships.

“And the new clean power generation led by SolarReserve as well as sweeping efficiency modernizations from K-Electric exemplify the exciting realities of energy production and delivery in the 21st century.

“These projects show the transformative impact that the US private sector can have in the developing world, and we look forward to their successes in supporting clean power and inclusive growth in Asia and Africa.”

Photograph: Render of the planned Redstone solar power project Northern Cape, South Africa (SolarReserve)