South Africa set to take off as rest of region strugles

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA: The emphasis shifted south in this region to South Africa last year, with the conclusion of the first round of the country's renewable energy independent power producer programme (REIPPP).

South Africa is making progress in developing more wind (photo:Warrenski)
South Africa is making progress in developing more wind (photo:Warrenski)

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This brought financial closure for 634MW of projects, while a second bidding window added 562MW to the pipeline. Continuing political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East is bringing further uncertainty to a number of countries, but Morocco remains a major market.

Up to now development in the region has largely been the preserve of state entities or small, local developers, as in the case of Kenya's 300MW Lake Turkana project.

A clear policy and firm government backing in South Africa is serving to open up its market. Projects selected in the first round of the REIPPP mostly belonged to local developers who had been pursuing their projects for some years. However, the second round saw more large, foreign-owned utilities and developers, such as EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN) and GDF Suez, buying into what promises to be a relatively large and stable market.

The two developers are now also present in Morocco, where EDF EN in partnership with Mitsui were awarded a 150MW project at Taza, and GDF Suez has 300MW in the pipeline with local conglomerate Nareva at Tarfaya. Given the lack of maturity in the rest of the region, however, it is unlikely that this trend will be seen elsewhere in the foreseeable future.

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