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AORA solar energy- facility. Israel interest in Africa’s energy sector comes at a time
African governments, including Kenya are turning to renewable energy.

By John Oyuke 

ISRAEL:  African economies, led by East Africa, are emerging as the world’s clean energy powerhouses partly as a safeguard against rising oil prices.

 Already, foreign investors are making a beeline for Africa to tap into the region’s growing appetite for renewable energy.

Israeli technology firms have primed their sights on the region, where it is estimated that up to 85 per cent of the landmass has no power.

East Africa’s economies are specifically becoming both a frontier market and strategic gateway for overseas manufacturers of solar panels.

 Leading the pack to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in Africa are Energiya Global and AORA Solar, an innovative concentrating solar power (CSP) grid solutions developer.

 With a 35-metre high sun-ray collection tower and about 50 mirrors positioned to direct the sun, AORA says it is now ready to wean Africa off fossil fuels.

Energiya is developing the first utility-scale solar PV (photovoltaic) project in Rwanda.

It has already secured a local partner in Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village for orphans of the Rwandan genocide.

 AORA, which has operations in Spain, is currently negotiating business partnership deal with several firms in South Africa.

 “With more countries discovering the advantages of solar energy, we expect AORA will soon be a part of many African countries’ landscapes,” President and Chief Executive, Mr Zev Rosenzweig told Business Weekly on the sidelines of the 5th International Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition in Eilat, Israel last week.

He said in addition to Africa, a significant order of demo units of the system is headed to the US and plans are currently underway to set up sites in Latin America and Eastern Europe by the end of 2012.

Energiya Global Vice President – Regional Director, Africa, Chaim Motzen said while the continent’s move to build a renewable energy infrastructure is timely, African Governments need to support the initiative through initiatives.   “We have already identified some locations including Kenya to commence our operations,” Motzen says.

“The challenge, however, has been finding the right ingredients in terms of regulatory environment to help with development at those sites.”

 Israel forays and interest in Africa’s energy sector comes at a time African governments including Kenya are increasingly turning to renewable energy.

While there has been rapid growth rate in the sector in other parts of the world, studies indicate that most of Africa’s substantial new and renewable energy resources remain largely under-exploited.

 A 2007 World Bank report said Kenya has annual solar energy resources equivalent to the discovery of roughly 70 million tonnes of oil.

About 30,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are sold annually.

The industry is thriving, making the country one of the best examples of where solar energy technology has taken off in sub-Saharan Africa. But further investment is required especially in manufacturing of PV panels.

According to policy briefs from the Ministry of Energy, Kenya has accelerated the shift to renewable sources of energy to become a green economy powerhouse.

Clean sources of energy including solar, wind and geothermal are critical to meeting both domestic and industrial demand for electricity.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 blueprint pegs the country’s attainment of middle income status to expanding access to electricity from a national average of 30 per cent to 70 per cent.