Investors have identified opportunities to develop renewable energy in rural areas in several African countries, bringing power to small and medium-size businesses and the communities that surround them.
Together with technical partners, consulting and advisory firm, Moore Stephens Africa Advisory (MSAA) has a strategy to facilitate assisting rural communities and private developers to own and operate their own renewable energy farms.
MSAA has assessed the potential for developing market opportunities in rural areas and is seeking and developing financial partners to help develop Rural Community Energy farms across Africa.
Jeff Blackbeard, Africa Strategy Advisor for MSAA said there’s a great need to develop renewable energy, particularly for small and medium-size enterprises in African countries.
According to the World Bank, ten million small and medium-size enterprises in Africa have no access to electricity. Those that do pay three times as much as in the United States and Europe and routinely endure power outages that cost their countries between one and four percent in lost GDP every year.
Though working with its global partner firms, Moore Stephens has identified opportunities for collaboration on funding models as well as new technologies.
Gareth Pollit, Africa Technical Advisor at Moore Stephens Africa Advisory, said there was great potential to implement a variety of renewable technologies across Africa, from solar to biomass together with associated industries such as wood briquetting and pelleting.
He said Moore Stephens was working on two market and technical surveys for US$ 30 million wood pelleting and solar projects in Southern Africa which would generate export opportunities as well as create jobs and local industrialization capabilities.
“MSAA has undertaken a uniquely proactive approach in identifying project opportunities, technical partners and funders from its Africa and global network of clients,” says Blackbeard.
MSAA is able to tap into its global network, as it forms part of Moore Stephens International, one of the world’s major accounting and consulting networks, with 626 offices in 103 countries.
Blackbeard has travelled to Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania to identify opportunities across the spectrum from solar, wind and bio-mass to mini-hydro schemes. These opportunities could dovetail with the projects their clients are involved in – from real estate, agri-processing, retail and distribution to financial services and telecoms projects throughout Sub Saharan and West Africa.
“The approach has been developed to meet local and national development guidelines in South Africa and other African countries,” said Pollit.
Blackbeard said agricultural and energy security were key sectors of interest to MSAA.
“In respect of energy security we are not targeting supplementing the main grid, but rather working with anchor tenants in rural areas, whether it be a sawmill, a dairy or a tomato plantation where renewable energy provides just part of an holistic solution”
Blackbeard says he envisages the surrounding community would also be able to benefit from the development.
“We want to find cost effective renewable energy solutions that meet the demands of our clients. We’ve also met with developers and local partners in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, who are involved in housing developments, factories, retail operations and small mines. There is potential for them to develop renewable energy projects around their existing businesses.”
MSAA can provide those linkages and solutions that assist in providing energy security.