Energy: Pursuing investments in Kenya, Egypt, Globeleq lays off 20% of its Cameroon workforce

By Bilal Mousjid
Posted on Wednesday, 21 December 2022 16:02

A security personnel stands guard next to the COP27 sign during the closing plenary at the COP27 climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 20, 2022. REUTERS

Founded in 2002, Globeleq, one of Africa’s largest electricity producers, has announced a 20% reduction in its Cameroon-based workforce while pursuing investments in Kenya and Egypt.

Globeleq’s first geothermal project in Kenya is set for launch in the first quarter of 2023, “once its financing has closed,” according to the 70% British-Norwegian-owned company.

Benefitting from a $72mn loan provided by the African Development Bank, Trade and Development Bank for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Finland-based Finnfund, a second geothermal field is scheduled to launch in Oklaria, 200 kilometres from Nairobi.

These recent developments can be attributed to British-Kenyan commitments made at last month’s COP27 in Cairo to boost green investments.

Also, benefiting from the support of the French Development Agency (AFD), this project will empower Kenya to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels by adopting renewables, including those from its geothermal fields which have a “potential estimated at 7,000 megawatts,” according to the France-based institution.

“As an active participant in Kenya’s energy sector for many years, the Menengai Geothermal Project is our first geothermal project, fully aligning with our goal of quality, renewable energy investments to create clean, cost-effective, and reliable energy for the country, while also playing an active role in solving the climate crisis,” says Mike Scholey, Globeleq’s CEO who already owns a functioning solar power plant in the country, Malinda Solar.

Founded in 2002, the British company, which presents itself as “the first independent power producer in Africa,” concentrated its entire investment portfolio on the continent, claiming a capacity of some 1,500 megawatts with at least 14 different projects in several countries, including South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

Globeleq has stretched its development portfolio across wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy production.

Near the end of August 2022, the company came to terms on a framework agreement with the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), the General Authority of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE), the sovereign wealth fund of Egypt, and the EETC, the only public electricity buyer in the country, to establish a titanic green hydrogen project.

The project is divided into three phases totalling 3.6 gigawatts of electrolysers and around 9 gigawatts of photovoltaic and wind-solar energy production, according to a press release.

None of this is uncharted territory for the British energy producer, with a photovoltaic solar power plant located in Aswan currently functioning with a capacity of 66 megawatts.

Union of gas, water in Cameroon

Despite an active presence in South Africa, where it currently owns ten solar and wind power plants, two of which are under development, the opposite is the case for Globeleq in West Africa.

At the moment, difficulties abound in Cameroon, where the producer operates two sites: a 216-megawatt gas plant in the city of Kribi in the south, and an 86-megawatt fuel plant in Diamba.

Seeking to improve operational efficiency standards, Globeleq has recently announced a social plan throughout Cameroon.

“Once completed, proposed changes will put the company’s Cameroon-based operations on a much sounder and sustainable financial footing,” said the energy producer, in an attempt to justify its 20% labour cuts.

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