As its preparations to list on the Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) take shape, renewable energy company Invest Solar Africa has announced its intentions to be the leading developer of renewable energy projects in its chosen markets.
“We anticipate to list in the BSE before the end of 2018,” said George Manyere, the founder and Non-Executive Director of Invest Solar Africa.
Invest Solar Africa is a renewable energy company with focus on developing and building grid connected solar parks from which power will be generated and sold to utility companies under a power purchase agreement.
Speaking during a media briefing in Gaborone on Wednesday, Manyere said they have been building the company for the past year and have received immense support from the BSEL in their preparations to be a listed company.
He said as a regional focused group but domiciled in Botswana, they were inspired to go the renewable energy route by the significant shortages of electricity in the region and the ideal climate to support solar projects along with vast amounts of affordable land for such projects.
“The African continent is still in its infancy when it comes to access to electricity and thus the sector is poised for significant growth with the right level of investment,” said Manyere.
Manyere pointed out that the attractive political and economic environment in Botswana is a significant magnet in anchoring the business out of Botswana but with a regional focus.
“When you look at Botswana it also has significant opportunities in this and we believe that we can play a significant role in Botswana becoming a net exporter of power into the region, purely because of the abundance of land and obviously the sunshine is quite a lot to make sure that you can develop a significant solar generation environment,” he said.
The existence of the Southern African power pool, Manyere said, can enable power generated in any country in the region to be wheeled within all countries that are part of the pool, creating a very significant opportunity, particularly for Botswana in terms of developing a significant industry that will have regional and continental scale and that will service about 600 million people within the SADC region.
“We believe this is a key initiative that will have significant impact at a macroeconomic environment within the Botswana environment,” he said.
According to Manyere, because of the significant opportunities that the energy space presents Invest Solar Africa have decided to approach the opportunities with significance scale and their view is that they are building this business for institutional as well as individual investors with long-term holding ambitions in terms of their investments.
In Botswana, the unique business model will provide an opportunity for local investors to explore its merits for partnerships and equity, as is the case elsewhere in some of its regional operations.
Manyere said he has already secured debt amounting to US $27.7 million and equity amounting to US $35.0 million (close to P900 million) as commitments to support the development of its pipeline of projects, which has been committed by various institutional investors, a combination of which is development of financial institutions.
“I am happy to say that [yesterday] we signed a $5 million credit line with Norsad Finance who is already financing one of our first projects which is a 20 MW project in Zimbabwe. It is already at construction stage and is expected to be commissioned by the end of Q1 next year,” he said.
He said they also have three projects that are at development stage and licensing stage that will in aggregate generate an additional 60 MW. This, he said, will assist them to achieve their aim of generating close to 100 MW out of five projects, two of which they hope will be in Botswana generating at least 40-50 MW.
“In terms of the preparedness of the Botswana market for us to start implementing some major projects, we are encouraged by the fact that the Botswana government has set up the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) which is a critical first step in creating an enabling environment particularly for independent power producers to flourish and exist,” he said, adding that Invest Solar Africa is aiming to be the first player to obtain a license that BERA will issue out.
Manyere said excessive availability of land in Botswana makes the setting up of solar parks even easier and that the stability of the economy makes the country the most attractive place where their concentration of assets will be. The company’s plan is to have 3 to 5 solar parks in Botswana to be commissioned in two to three years.