Powering the continent
Unlocking Africa’s growthpotential can only be realised by improving itspower generation
Lack of sufficient power is arguably Africa’s greatest impediment to growth. Behind this is an abiding belief that it is the states’ right and responsibility to provide power, which explains why parts of Nigeria go without power for several days a week.
A 2015 Mckinsey study, Powering Africa, noted that the continent is starved for electricity: “The fact that sub-saharan Africa’s residential and industrial sectors suffer electricity shortages means that countries struggle to sustain GDP growth. The stakes are enormous. Indeed, fulfilling the economic and social promise of the region, and Africa in general, depends on the ability of government and investors to develop the continent’s huge electricity capacity.”
Electricity consumption and economic growth are linked. Unlocking Africa’s growth potential will not happen without a stepchange in power generation. But how is this to happen if stateowned utilities squat on their monopoly powers and refuse to open the market to competitors?
“We cannot go on relying on state-owned utilities to fill the power demand shortage,” says Harith CEO Tshepo Mahloele. “The cost of renewable energy has come down dramatically in the past decade, and that has presented huge opportunities. Many companies are now producing their own power. This is disrupting the market in ways no-one could have envisioned 10 or 20 years ago.”
Power generation and distribution forms a key component of the Harith portfolio. It bought 98% of Uk-based power company Aldwych International to spearhead its power strategy across the continent. This was part of a much grander vision to electrify Africa, named Project Edison, after the inventor of the light bulb. In June 2016 Harith and Africa Finance Corp (AFC) merged their power sector assets, expertise and experience to create a new energy entity combining both renewable and nonrenewable power generating assets in Africa, where an estimated 620m people live without power. This pooling of assets resulted in a combined generating capacity of 1,575 MW, valued at Us$3.3bn, supplying power to more than
30m people in 10 countries.
The joint venture merged the AFC’S interests in Cenpower, owner of the Kpone Independent Power Project under construction in Ghana, and Cabeolica, a wind farm that provides 20% of Cape Verde’s energy needs, with those of the Pan-africa Infrastructure Development Fund 1 (PAIDF 1) which is managed by Harith.
These include the Azura Edo
IPP in Nigeria, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Kenya, Kelvin Power Station in SA and the Rabai Thermal project in Kenya. Collectively this portfolio represents some of the largest private projects in Africa’s energy sector. Some of these projects are groundbreaking in their scope and ingenuity.
● Harith subsidiary Aldwych International is involved in the Lake Turkana Wind Power project in northern Kenya, which will supply 310 MW of power to the national grid from 365 wind turbines — making it the third-largest wind turbine project in the world. This is equivalent to 15% of national power