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our department of energy, within gov-
ernment. We are an independent orga-
nization; we have no vested interested
at all. We serve our members and re-
newable energy on the whole.
: What is the current state
of alternative energy development in
your area right now?
: In Africa we are so far be-
hind. We have various educational
programs in renewables just starting
up. The major players here right now
are in solar water heating because
you don’t need a lot of money to get
involved in that industry. But there
hasn’t been a lot of government fund-
ing for other areas of renewables just
It’s only now that renew-
ables are starting to become a
: What are the chal-
lenges that the industry is fac-
: We as an association see roof-
top solar PV as the future and not so
much those huge solar farms. Because
of the high cost of entry, these types of
technologies [small-scale solar] should
be utilized—not huge farms. People
need the infrastructure to transport
the energy. We have rural areas
where there is nothing. Although
we have the best solar and wind
in the world we don’t yet have
the capacity everywhere to turn
those resources into projects.
Our government right now is
focused on local content—they are
saying, “let’s manufacture PV panels
here.” But we don’t have the capacity
right now. However, now people are
talking about it.
We rely on consultants and asso-
ciates to learn about renewables. Be-
cause we’re new in this area, we have
to rely on international expertise. But
our presidency and government are
aware that we need to grow in renew-
ables. We have to steer the industry in
the right direction.
: What is the association’s
long-term vision?
: I can only speak for south-
ern Africa: we very much want to see
that people in rural areas and the poor
are going to benefit from the whole
process of developing renewables. It’s
very easy to bring in the big companies
and they make the big money for the
next 25 years, but we don’t want these
large scale 500MW farms. We want lit-
tle pieces all across the land, to benefit
the people. If we decentralize it will be
a hell of a lot easier to implement and
better for the rural communities.
We’re fortunate being a little be-
hind; we can take examples from other
countries. We want to attract the lat-
est and the best technologies—there is
huge interest because we are a devel-
oping market for renewables. We are
“We very much want to see
that people in rural areas and
the poor are going to benefit
from the whole process of
developing renewables.”