xi's moments
Home | China-Africa

China's clean energy investments growing rapidly in Africa

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-30 09:56

A photovoltaic power station built by a Chinese company generates clean, stable energy for residents of a village in Gambella National Regional State, Ethiopia, in March last year. XINHUA

Chinese investments in renewable energy are increasing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa, with major projects set to help light vast areas of the continent while contributing to tackling climate change.

From the Sakai photovoltaic power station in the Central African Republic and the Garissa solar plant in Kenya, to the Aysha wind power project in Ethiopia and the Kafue Gorge hydroelectric station in Zambia, China has implemented hundreds of clean energy, green development projects in Africa, supporting the continent's efforts to tackle climate change.

The projects are seen as crucial at a time when climate change is of concern across the globe-including the recent global heat wave that has hit parts of North Africa and a drought that is devastating parts of the Horn of Africa.

In addition, there is evidence of additional benefits of China's investment in Africa's green energy sector, with newly created jobs and training activities involving local staff.

Liu Yichao, the business manager for China Jiangxi International Kenya who is in charge of several projects across East Africa, said the company has always been committed to improving the level of infrastructure and people's well-being in Africa in many fields, including renewable energy.

"We operate in different construction sectors and we have implemented projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania in the East African region. Even though we are a construction company and have built infrastructure like bridges and hospitals in Africa, we also participate in setting up renewable energy facilities like hydroelectric dams and solar power stations," Liu said.

"One of our latest projects is the Koru-Soin multipurpose dam in western Kenya.... The objective is to build a comprehensive water conservancy project integrating flood control, water supply and irrigation functions," he added.

In May, the company, as the general contractor, signed the contract with Kenya's National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority for construction of the dam.

The project is valued at over $190 million, with a storage capacity of 93.7 million cubic meters. It will provide 72 million liters of water per day for domestic use, irrigate 2,570 hectares and generate 2.5 megawatts of hydropower to be added to the national grid.

The Chinese company is also building the Mwache multipurpose dam in Kenya's coastal Kwale County.

Another major renewable project of Sino-African cooperation in East Africa is the 54.6 MW Garissa solar plant in eastern Kenya which is the largest grid-connected solar power plant in East and Central Africa. The plant was also built by China Jiangxi International Kenya.

According to James Mureithi, the lead engineer at Kenya's Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corp, the solar farm, which is on 85 hectares and consists of 206,272 solar panels, required an investment of $135.7 million and was funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.

"Generation of power at the solar farm commenced in November 2018. Going by our reports as of March 2021, a total of 215,918 megawatt hours was generated and exported to the national grid at an average daily generation of 247 megawatt hours," Mureithi said.

"Currently, this project is contributing about 2 percent of the national energy mix and has significantly led to a reduction of energy costs in the country while promoting the development of clean, reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity. Plans are also underway for optimization of the plant by introducing a 50 MW wind power project to ensure generation during day and night," he added.

Simon Gicharu, chairman of the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corp's board of directors, said 147 new solar power plants are envisioned across Kenya, following the success of the Garissa solar plant. The project will target solar-intensive places such as Mandera, Lamu, Wajir, Tana River, Garissa and Turkana.

"The Kenyan government will not rest on its laurels because the short-term results produced by the largest solar power plant in East Africa at Garissa are encouraging. The power plant has proved to be an exemplary project, with many environmental benefits. That is why we will now invest more in solar power projects," Gicharu said.

Liu said that his company's policy is to share knowledge and expertise on green energy with local technicians. When the company finished building the Garissa solar station, they handed it over to the Kenyan government after ensuring that it was up and running and well staffed.

"Since the plant started operations, we continue to work with the client, who in this case is Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corp, by sending over technicians when needed. We also have had our technicians and engineers on site since construction started in 2017, and they have been sharing information with Kenyan engineers on setting up, running and troubleshooting at the plant," Liu said.

Other notable green energy projects undertaken in Africa by Chinese companies include the De Aar wind farm in South Africa. The project is being conducted by China's Longyuan Power through its South African subsidiary, Longyuan South Africa Renewables. The installed capacity of the project's 163 wind turbines is 244.5 MW.

In Zambia, Sinohydro Corp is building the Kafue Gorge hydropower station at a cost of $2 billion. The project, which is financed by Export-Import Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, is expected to have installed capacity of 750 MW once fully operational.

Despite increased investment in Africa's green energy with the acceleration of Chinese investment, experts said that African governments must demonstrate strong ambition and determination for a clean energy transition through policies and incentives.

In a report titled "China's Investments in Renewable Energy in Africa", published last year by the United Nations' Environment Programme, experts said that African governments should open up the generation, distribution and transmission sectors to private players. A lack of capital to finance such projects and the lack of a conducive environment for private participants are among big challenges facing the continent, the report said.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349