By Inside Biz

Standard Bank is at the forefront of efforts to provide viable financial solutions and technical support for renewable energy and infrastructure projects in Eswatini for sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic growth.

The Bank continues to lead the way in supporting national efforts for universal access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable electricity; whilst propelling the country towards net zero in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Mvuselelo Fakudze, the Chief Executive of Standard Bank Eswatini, said the Group has mobilized E300 billion for sustainable finance by the end of 2026, adding that the target includes E50 billion of financing for renewable energy projects, including carbon trading and Export Credit Agency (ECA) finance.

He said the Bank was committed to supporting its long-standing clients across the sectors of the economy in ensuring that they meet their energy needs.

This, Fakudze said, includes supporting businesses and SMMEs, with the following:

·       Solar PV Asset Finance,

·       Energy Efficiency Loans, and

·        Energy Production Loans.

The Bank is moving full steam ahead in ensuring the success of renewable energy projects for dispatchable power, whilst playing a leading role in delivering renewable power to the grid and supporting Eswatini’s drive to energy security.

Standard Bank, which boasts 160 years of experience in the financial services sector across Africa and elsewhere, and is the biggest bank by assets, is uniquely positioned to assist businesses, and joint venture entities involving emaSwati, to access its innovative financial solutions for climate-smart projects.

These, in the main, are projects that support a just energy transition towards a green economy, reduction of carbon emissions, an increase in climate resilience, and enhance socio-economic development.

Fakudze was speaking during the highly successful inaugural Eswatini Energy Indaba 2023 which brought together government representatives, industry experts, regulatory authorities and utilities, independent power producers (IPPs), finance institutions, the private sector, SMME owners, and entrepreneurs, for discussions on solutions for the country’s power sector.

The Indaba was held at the Royal Villas in Ezulwini, under the theme: ‘Powering Eswatini Beyond 2025.’ 

The gathering also focused on solutions to reduce Eswatini’s over-reliance on electricity imports towards sustainable energy, creating new jobs and technical expertise in the sector.

Eswatini currently imports about 70% of its electricity from South Africa’s Eskom, Mozambique’s EDM as well as the Southern African Power Pool. Through the additional local generation of power, Eswatini could redirect the several significant amounts it currently pays to ESKOM, to be spent on development projects within the country.

“We are available to finance energy generation in Eswatini, putting into use our expertise in the energy sector across the Group. We remain committed to driving sustainable and inclusive economic progress by partnering with the Government and our clients to find the right financing solutions for energy generation expansion,” Fakudze said.

“As a Bank, we can leverage our in-depth industry knowledge and expertise to design and implement innovative financing solutions within the areas of energy production and efficiency. Standard Bank is a leader in renewable energy projects, and we are actively financing energy projects across Southern Africa, including renewables such as solar and wind energy, and waste-to-energy projects.”

The Standard Bank Group has recently supported, as the mandated lead arranger and underwriter, three new independent electricity generation projects valued at over E16 billion, with each targeting 50MW of energy generation capacity.

The Eswatini Energy Indaba was attended by the acting Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulani Mabuza, the Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg, CEO of the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) Sikhumbuzo Tsabedze, Managing Director of Eswatini Electricity Company Ernest Mkhonta, Managing Director of Eswatini Water Services Corporation Jabulile Mashwama, Standard Bank Group Head: Power and Infrastructure Rentia van Tonder, among others. Standard Bank Executive, Specialised Transactions Lawrence Cole-Morgan gave a virtual presentation on Carbon Credit Trading.

Meanwhile, Fakudze added that energy security has become a strategic imperative for businesses across the African continent.

“For the Kingdom of Eswatini, this must include finding new ways to finance sustainable energy solutions,” he said.

“In response to climate change, countries have made commitments towards net zero and finding new pathways to introduce bold targets towards renewable energy and other transition fuels.”

“However, it is important that we strike a balance between energy transition to renewables and energy affordability for all emaSwati.”

Fakudze said Eswatini should consider how it finances base-load energy generation as well as the low-carbon energy projects required to achieve its development goals.

“This can be possible if we work together as the private sector, supporting the mandate of the His Majesty’s Government by making energy financing accessible to ensure the successful implementation of generation expansion projects that will power Eswatini beyond 2025.”

Meanwhile, Minister Mabuza lauded Standard Bank for being a pioneer in driving the conversation on energy security in the country and coming up with innovative solutions for the power sector.

“Government is pleased that as we work on energy security, local partners like Standard Bank are pledging their support,” Minister Mabuza said.

“We take note of the Bank’s experience and knowledge of Africa’s economies as well as the Bank’s emphasis on its commitment to play a role in Eswatini’s growth by hosting the Energy Indaba in support of His Majesty’s Government’s pillar goal for inclusive economic growth and sustainable livelihoods.”

Minister Mabuza added that in order for Eswatini to achieve energy independence and security, there was a need for innovative financial instruments and policies to attract the much-needed investment and foster public-private partnerships in the energy sector.

“This is where our financial institutions also have a central role to play. Institutions such as Standard Bank therefore have a big role to play and as Government, we applaud initiatives where the private sector takes time to engage key stakeholders in leading the country towards energy security,” he said

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