THE partnership between Namibia and Botswana to construct a power plant that will use the sun’s energy to generate five gigawatts of electricity is one step closer to realisation after the government of the United States of America added its weight behind the project/.
The Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo signed a memorandum of intent with Lisa Johnson, the Ambassador of the United States in Namibia to develop the plant that will eventually cancel the emission of an estimated 6.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere.
The Mega Solar project will form part of USAID’s Power Africa Initiative, which is committed to assisting the southern African region to transform from reliance on fossil fuels to clean energy, enabling a path to decarbonization.
The signing of the memorandum follows a recent climate summit called by President Joe Biden to catalyze global ambition to address the climate crisis. The Summit convened world leaders to galvanize efforts to keep the vital goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. The Biden-Harris Administration selected the Mega Solar Project as a favourite at the Summit.
“I am very excited that Namibia, Botswana, the United States, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the African Development Bank have taken important steps forward together on the Mega Solar Project,” Ambassador Johnson said during the signing of the memorandum. She added that the Mega Solar Project will directly advance a goal set forth in His Excellency President Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan II for Namibia by achieving a secure and cost-effective energy supply.
“When fully realized, the Mega Solar Project could be one of the largest solar parks in the world, generating between 3 000 and 5 000 megawatts of energy,” she said.
Ambassador Johnson was of the opinion that the project could transform Namibia and Botswana into two of the globe’s most significant producers of solar power. The capacity of the plant would be enough to begin exporting renewable energy to the rest of the southern Africa region.
“Beyond the economic potential, the Mega Solar project will help decarbonize southern Africa and will make a significant contribution to global efforts on climate change,” she said.
Mega Solar’s initial goal is to provide additional power from solar photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal technologies to meet local demand and the ultimate benefit of the collaborative efforts of the Mega Solar partners in strengthening the institutional and technical capacity as well as legal and regulatory frameworks of the focal countries.
“Simply put, this milestone agreement, with Botswana and Namibia demonstrating unprecedented leadership and collaboration, moves the Mega Solar project from the concept phase to the action phase. Unlocked by this partnership, is the extraordinary development potential for life and globe-changing clean energy, emanating from southern Africa on a pioneering scale of massive productive use,” Mark Carrato USAID’s Coordinator of Power Africa, said.
The Power Africa Initiative – established by the 2013 Electrify Africa Act – is making a difference across sub-Saharan Africa by improving lives, supporting economic growth, and combating climate change through improved access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity.
Since 2013, Power Africa has leveraged the combined expertise of the private sector and 12 U.S. government agencies to bring 12 000 MW – representing a US$22 billion investment – to financial close.
Already, Power Africa has connected more than 20.8 million homes and businesses to on- and off-grid solutions, bringing first-time electricity to 98 million people across sub-Saharan Africa.
Power Africa, though its partnerships and comprehensive technical assistance presence, is uniquely positioned to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s objectives to support economic growth and decarbonization across sub-Saharan Africa, a region critical to fighting climate change.