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Acwa Power plans a bold investment future in Africa

An Acwa Power wind turbine in Morocco. The company says not enough developers are in Africa Reuters/Youssef Boudlal
The US market plays an important role in Masdar's plan as it builds a global renewable energy portfolio of 100 GW capacity by 2030
  • Saudi major targets continent
  • Ten times more finance needed
  • Company to triple in size

Saudi Arabia-listed Acwa Power is targeting future investments in Africa as part of the clean energy company’s plan to triple in size by 2030.

“Africa needs that energy transition. But there aren’t enough developers going there and asking questions,” said Raad Al-Saady, vice chairman and managing director of Acwa Power, during a panel discussion at Cop28. “We’re doing that right now.”

The plight of Africa has been laid bare at the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai, with the continent arguably the least able to cope with the negative impacts of climate change.

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Heatwaves, heavy rains, floods, tropical cyclones and lengthy droughts are among the conditions wreaking havoc on communities and economies.

Africa only received $11.4 billion in adaptation finance in 2019-2020 and the increase in 2021-2022 is likely to be modest, according to the Global Center on Adaptation. 

At this rate, Africa will receive $182 billion by 2035 for climate adaptation, less than one-tenth of the up to $1.7 trillion by 2035 the research estimated it needs.

“We think Africa is really the future,” said Al-Saady. “We can go and we can bring our financial partners and we can talk to off takers.”

Acwa Power, backed by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, has 75 assets in various stages of development and in operation in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

The total investment value is SAR297.75 billion ($79.4 billion) with the capacity to generate 50.1 GW of power and manage 7.6 million m3 of desalinated water per day.

The company recently launched Acwa Power 2.0, a mission to triple the size of the company to around $250 billion of assets under management from under $80 billion at the start of this year.

Cooperation with China

The Riyadh-based company signed seven cooperation agreements with various Chinese companies in October across a number of sectors, including solar energy, green hydrogen, and water desalination.

Al-Saady revealed future plans would involve enhancing the relationship with China. “We do believe there is huge potential for us with the G2G [government-to-government] relationship as well.”

He added that existing territories in east and central Asia, CIS countries and in the north of Africa would continue to be of interest and said they were looking forward to future announcements in the Indonesia market.

“We’re also excited about Thailand and many others,” he said.

Acwa Power reported a 16.46 percent increase in profits to SAR397.94 million in the third quarter of 2023, driven by positive momentum in the business development activities.

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