Expanding Renewable Energy Finance in Southern Africa: Webinar Discussion

By Maureen Heydt

On November 19, 2020, the Global Development Policy center hosted a webinar to discuss the findings of the new report ‘Expanding Renewable Energy for Access and Development: The Role of Development Finance Institutions in Southern Africa‘, coproduced with the SADC Development Finance Resource Centre (SADC-DFRC), the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the University of Pretoria Centre for Human Rights.

The event featured presentations from Kudakwashe (Kuda) Ndhlukula (Executive Director, Southern African Development Community Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE)), Moses Ntlamelle (Energy Officer, SADC Secretariat) and Antonio Osvaldo Saide (CEO, FUNAE, Mozambique Energy Fund) and included comments from Lucy Chege (Head: Energy, Environment & ICT, Development Bank of Southern Africa), Kogan Pillay (PPP Expert, SADC-DFRC) and Miquel Muñoz Cabré (Senior Research Scholar at the GDP Center).

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) comprises 16 countries, eight of which have less than 50 percent electricity access. The report examines progress to date in meeting SADC’s energy demands and policy goals, compiling the current contributions of development finance institutions (DFIs) to developing more renewable energy. Based on interviews and surveys with local stakeholders and experts, the report investigates the barriers to renewable energy finance and uptake in the region and provides key policy recommendations.

Speaking at the event, Ntlamelle stated, “The SADC energy policy priorities include achieving adequate, reliable, least-cost, environmentally sustainable energy service.” Ndhlukula advised that, “the five key barriers SADC countries face in financing renewable energy are: path dependence on coal; lack of financing and risk mitigation instruments; preventative regulatory environment; lack of coordination, capacity, and technical challenges; and social barriers.” Chege added, “In order to overcome the barrier of financing, one of the key things that can be done is the issue of program and project preparation.” Saide also emphasized that it will be critical to involve the private sector in expanding renewable energy access, as “most of the investment so far as been public investment.”

The webinar also featured a Q&A session with the audience, where the participants discussed topics including Chinese development bank finance, commercial investors, grid integration, technology transfer as a barrier to increasing renewable energy access, and more.

A companion blog details the top five policy recommendations to boost renewable energy finance in Southern Africa, which is discussed in detail in the full report.

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