African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) have signed a Memorandum of Intent to begin talks for financing the Botswana-Namibia mega solar project which was announced earlier. The Memorandum of Intent is expected to support the pre-feasibility and related studies required to advance the project.
The two countries have partnered with the US-led Power Africa to develop this project. The project will see installations built across both countries and the power produced will be exported to the Southern African region. According to the Botswana authorities, the capital raising campaign involving the three mentioned financing organisations would help fund the studies and could be involved in supporting the actual project’s development.
As pet the project plans, 5 GW of solar power generating capacity to be developed over the next 2 decades across Namibia and Botswana. These plans were first formulated and shared in August 2019 by the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Energy and the Power Africa initiative, in August 2019. This will involve a multi-phased solar procurement program where capacities under all phases will be developed through a competitive procurement process. Under phase 1, about 300 MW to 500 MW of capacity will be procured to cover future domestic demand only. Consequently, phase 2 will see procurement of 500 MW to 1 GW capacity to cover regional demand within the South African Power Pool (SAPP) or through bilateral agreements. Thereafter, in phase 3, between 1 GW to 3 GW capacity will be procured to meet demand in SAPP and Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP).
Botswana and Namibia were chosen for this mega solar project because of their solar irradiation potential, large open spaces and low population density, strong legal and regulatory environment, and low-cost, efficient and smart power-trading potential to meet high regional demand. Botswana and Namibia offer the potential to capture around 10 hours of strong sunlight per day for 300 days per year and have some of the highest solar irradiance potential across African countries.