US signs pact for up to 5-GW solar project in Botswana, Namibia

Signing of the memorandum. Source: US Embassy in Namibia

April 28 (Renewables Now) - The Biden-Harris administration has signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) regarding a plan to build a solar power complex of up to 5 GW in Botswana and Namibia.

According to a Monday announcement, the US government will cooperate with those of the two African nations involved, the African Development Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

If the “Mega Solar” project is realised, it could be one of the largest in the world. The initial goal is to provide additional power using both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies to cater to local demand.

“This could transform Namibia and Botswana into two of the globe’s most significant producers of solar power, enough to begin exporting renewable energy to the southern Africa region,” said Lisa Johnson, US Ambassador to Namibia.

In August 2020, Tom Alweendo, Namibia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, told Bloomberg that the two African nations were getting ready to ink a pact to jointly deploy as much as 5 GW of solar capacity across their territories. Craig Cloud, the US Ambassador to Botswana, said this week that the concept of a scalable cross-border solar project was first discussed in April 2019.

The scheme is a part of USAID’s Power Africa Initiative under which a total of 12 GW of projects have been brought to financial close since 2013.

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