Ethiopian Energy^Power Business Portal

Solar energy company Fenix International said on Thursday it was establishing its global headquarters in Uganda and moving its engineering and technology development centre from San Francisco to there, becoming one of the first international companies to have its base in the East African country. In a statement, Fenix International, which is part of global energy group ENGIE, said the new headquarters would cement its role as a major employer in the region and support its ambitious Pan-African expansion plans.

Fenix currently employs over 350 people in Uganda, providing off-grid energy to more than 1 million people. By 2020, it plans to employ 2,000 people, over 500 of whom will be based in Uganda. The Uganda headquarters will support operations in 12 countries around the world, in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa, as well as China and the United States.

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The electricity access coverage of Ethiopia is still very low, covering only about 30% of the population so to say.  To address the energy access challenge of the remaining 70% of the population, the country plans to leverage the capability of the private sector in addition to the efforts  of the long practiced public sector led initiatives. 

As the country tries new ways of addressing the access challenge, it requires a thorough understanding of the new business models and the new perspectives not only to realize the stated objectives and goals but also manage the downside risks emerging from the new practices.

To assist the developing countries in closing the knowledge gap that existed, development partners wrote and shared handbooks that could help tap the best practices for all the players, the public sector in particular, to benefit from the engagements.

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Energy and Environment Partnership Trust Fund (EEP Africa) has financed 43 minigrid projects in 10 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. Their recently published report Opportunities and Challenges in the Mini-grid Sector in Africa draws lessons from the EEP Africa portfolio and explains that infrastructure financing and regulatory environments are the main ‘make-or-break’ contributors to mini-grid bankability. Here we highlight key findings from the report:

Mini-grids in the EEP Africa portfolio are not only generating high-quality AC grid power, providing 24/7 electricity services, but also creating jobs and boosting local economy:

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Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important and necessary step towards averting climate change. However, in our efforts to go green, we also need to be mindful of other consequences, both intended and unintended – and that includes how a mass deployment of renewable technology might affect its surrounding climate.

What if the Sahara desert was turned into a giant solar and wind farm, for instance? This is the topic of new research published in Science by Yan Li and colleagues. They found that all those hypothetical wind turbines and solar panels would make their immediate surroundings both warmer and rainier, and could turn parts of the Sahara green for the first time in at least 4,500 years.

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