Ener-G-Africa (EGA) invested a total of $2.1m in EGACQUEST (Pty) Ltd to set up the 20MW per annum solar panel assembly plant, which will focus on servicing the local market as well as exporting to the rest of Africa.
SA’s drive towards greener energy has received a major boost following the launch of a multi-million rand solar panel assembly plant in Cape Town.
Ener-G-Africa (EGA), an energy company which has a presence in SA and Malawi, invested a total of $2.1m in EGACQUEST (Pty) Ltd to set up the 20MW per annum solar panel assembly plant, which will be operated by women technicians only. The company says this is part of efforts to give the previously disadvantaged a leg up.
The plant will focus on servicing the local market as well as exporting to the rest of Africa. This comes as SA is battling its worst power cuts on record, forcing many businesses and homes to turn to renewable energy, including solar. SA partly relies on imported solar panels mostly from China with the country shipping in over R5bn of photovoltaic cells in 2022, according to figures by the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
The EGA investment was facilitated by Wesgro, the official trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape and GreenCape, an organisation which seeks to support national and provincial green economy goals.
Speaking during the launch of the solar assembly plant on Thursday, Wesgro CEO Wrenelle Stander, said there is growing appetite to invest in renewables amid the energy crunch, and Cape Town and the Western Cape is ready for the new opportunities.
“The time is now for renewable manufacturing. Cape Town and the Western Cape is ready,” Stander said.
“Multi-year investment opportunities are arising, stemming from the convergence of a number of factors such as international shifts to clean energy, the focus on energy security globally as an outcome of the impact of the Russian Ukraine conflict, the load-shedding crisis in South Africa and the consequent policy shifts at a national government level to deregulate the energy sector,” she said.
The government has been on a drive to lure more private investment in large scale renewables projects to boost production capacity. It also recently relaxed regulations on self-generation, removing a limit on the amount of power businesses and individuals can produce before approaching the state for approval.
Stander said energy security is crucial for economic growth. SA’s energy woes will not be fixed by one stakeholder, and collaboration between the public and private sector will be crucial going forward. She pointed out that in the Western Cape, the broader economic leadership team is aligned in terms of the need to attract more investment in the energy sector to ensure that the economy remains competitive.
“Wesgro will continue to support Ener-G-Africa. We are excited by the prospects that this new facility will bring.”
EGA was founded in Malawi as a solar wholesale company amid rising demand for quality sustainable energy products. In 2022, it started working on establishing a solar panel assembly plant in Cape Town, which it said would only be the second such facility in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The plant currently employs 52 people and is the first female-only operated solar assembly facility in the world, the company says.
“All the women are from previously disadvantaged communities and have undergone an extensive 3-month training programme implemented by a German Accredited Training Organisation. EGA is focused on the continued skills development and knowledge transfer of all employees.”