Access Infra Africa, a Dubai-based company, will launch what it says will be “Africa’s largest privately owned solar plant” in Uganda this year. This is part of plans to develop electricity projects based on renewable energy in 17 African countries.

An International Energy Agency (IEA) report estimates that 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, about two thirds of the population, lack access to electricity. They also predict that demand would rise by 80%.

The company has committed to spending $500m in the next three years on power generation plants in Egypt, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique according to Reda el-Chaar, executive chairman of Access Power MEA, the majority owner of Access Infra Africa.

FMO, a Dutch development bank, and the London-based Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, provided debt funding for 70%-80% of the project’s costs, with Access Infra Africa committing the remainder in equity.

"As far as power technology is concerned, solar power has made the biggest leap in cost efficiency in recent years." "Solar power is no longer an exotic power solution, it’s becoming a real contender in any (power) generation mix."  Mr Chaar said.

In Uganda, Access Infra Africa’s 10MW solar- and wind-power station will start generating electricity later this year; the first of its plants to become operational.

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