Could you introduce Lekela and the Taiba N’Diaye Project?
Lekela is a pan-African company which develops and funds renewable power projects across Africa. We have operations in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Egypt. Our Taiba N’diaye project is West Africa’s first wind power project, located in the region of Thies, 80Km west of Dakar. The power plant will boast 158 megawatts (MW) of capacity, equivalent to about 15 percent of Senegal’s current electricity production capacity. Therefore, it is a major project for the country.
In line with the Emerging Senegal Plan, President Macky Sall is pushing hard to increase the number of renewables in the country’s energy mix. The funding scheme was finalized last year, for a total investment of US$330 million. We started construction works in September 2018. First production of about 50MW are expected to be transmitted to the national power company, SENELEC, by December 2019. Full capacity is expected to be reached by mid-2020.
What is the funding model for this project?
Our main financing partners for the Taiba N’diaye project are the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government’s development finance institution and Eksport Kredit Fonden, Denmark’s export agency.
What key factors led to the construction of this mega wind power project? Are you regarding other projects in the region?
Globally, there is a push to increase renewable energy generation. In Senegal, the majority of power is produced from fossil fuels, thus translating to a high cost of electricity. Hence, there is an economic demand from the population and the authorities to have cheaper and cleaner energy. From a business standpoint, Taiba N’diaye makes a lot of sense, it is one of several Lekela projects in Africa and the government was very open to the idea, thanks to our extensive experience.
Many other African countries present strong opportunities in renewable energy due to the immense potential resources of solar, wind and hydro based energy, coupled with a decrease in material prices and higher efficiency.
What is the company’s local content policy?
Across all sectors, but especially in nascent industries, local content is a key topic. Wind energy is technologically advanced sector. Building a wind turbine necessitates high technological readiness and standards. We are able to work with local firms for certain aspects of the project such as civil engineering and local procurement, among others.
Our policy is to partner up with local companies and the local workforce as much as possible, across all our projects. If we feel a gap between our needs and the available skills, we can design training programs in order to fulfill our requirements.
In Senegal, the government, as well as private players, are tackling the skills challenge. Schools and private institutions are popping up to provide the country’s strong workforce with adequate extra training it needs.
*This article originally appeared in Africa Energy Series: Senegal 2019.