Call for SMEs to cash in on solar fund

Ishuna Amakutsi

The deputy director of the Solar Revolving Fund (SRF) in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ishuna Amakutsi, has called on small and medium business operators in Namibia to apply for the installation of solar energy.

Amakutsi recently told Desert Radio the fund has budgeted about N$13 million for the electrification of off-grid houses in rural and peri-urban areas this year.

The SRF is a credit facility established by the ministry in 1996 to stimulate the use of renewable energy, mostly by people living in off-grid areas.

Money issued through the fund as loans revolves to fund the next beneficiaries upon repayment.

“For this financial year we are targeting about 400 households for electrification, with a total budget of N$13 million,” Amakutsi said.

He said N$11 million will be funded through the SRF, with money from the treasury, and the remaining N$2 million will emanate from the German government through the Green People Energy Project.

“We are managing two funds. The Green People Energy Project is earmarked for low-income earners who were excluded from the SRF, but then we also provide funding to small businesses in rural areas so as to promote entrepreneurial activities and productivity in these settings,” Amakutsi said.

The fund is an element of the off-grid energisation master plan (Ogemp) for Namibia, of which the objective is to provide access to appropriate energy technology to rural areas.

The SRF runs on an ownership model where individuals obtain loans to purchase renewable energy technology products.
The ministry is therefore financing the acquisition of stand-alone systems to provide renewable energy.

By April last year rural electrification reportedly stood at 20%, with the government planning to have the figure increased substantially in line with the Second Harambee Prosperity Plan’s goals.

These goals suggest that the government wants to electrify 6 000 rural households and 13 000 households in peri-urban areas to uplift the people’s standard of living.

Reports suggest that the SRF financed 5 051 solar systems amounting to N$144 million between April 2011 to March 2022 countrywide, with the loan recovery rate from beneficiaries for the 2021/22 financial year standing at 86%.

Namibia has been sold to the world to have the best sunlight for solar energy, but not many households have set up solar panels on their roofs.

Published data from the Namibia Statistics Agency show less than 10% of households in the country use solar energy.

Property agents have indicated that not many houses on the market are solar powered, and potential buyers are not listing this as a requirement.

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