Algeria plans solar energy tenders to tackle rising electricity needs

Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach' solar plant is pictured in Bir Rebaa oil field in southern Algeria, November 25, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2019
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Algeria plans solar energy tenders to tackle rising electricity needs

  • Government needs to save gas for export
  • Economists urge better investment climate

ALGIERS: Algeria plans to issue several tenders for renewable energy projects this year as it seeks to meet growing demand for electricity and save gas for export, an official said on Monday.
The OPEC oil producing member hopes to build solar plants to produce 22,000 megawatts (MW), or 27 percent of its electricity needs, by 2030, up from about 350 MW now.
Algeria will soon invite bids from national and foreign firms to set up a solar plant with a capacity of 150 MW, a senior official at the energy ministry said.
“We are (also) planning tenders to produce 2,000 megawatts before the end of 2020,” he added, without giving more details.
Turning to solar power is part of a drive to guarantee cheap retail energy prices. The authorities are keen to avoid social unrest, and face sporadic protests in some areas over a lack of electricity and gas supplies.
“Our development plan is also aimed at maintaining contractual commitments with partners in terms of gas supply,” said Noureddine Yassa, head of a National Renewable Energy Development Center set up to develop the sector.
The increase in demand for electricity has averaged 6.91 percent annually over the past years, according to official data, in a country where the population has been growing by nearly a million people per year.
Algeria is currently using gas to generate 98 percent of its power output of 19,000 MW.
Increasing or maintaining the level of gas and oil exports is a top priority for the country as the two energy products make up 60 percent of the budget and 94 percent of total sales abroad.
Solar energy will also be used at oil and gas fields.
State energy firm Sonatrach has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Italy’s ENI to build solar plants.
The North African country wants to use the expertise of foreign firms but needs to tackle bureaucracy and slowness reported by investors.
“The (solar energy) plan is applicable if there is a political will,” said economist El Houari Tighersi, also a member of the parliamentary finance committee.
“The investment climate must be improved if we want to change the situation for the better.”


SoftBank to launch Vision Fund 2 mega-venture

Updated 5 min 13 sec ago
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SoftBank to launch Vision Fund 2 mega-venture

  • Vision Fund 2 will aim to pull in existing investors such as the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia and Mubadala in the UAE
  • Vision Fund 2 is expected to at least equal the original fund’s $97 billion fund, and could reach $150 billion

LONDON: The global mega-investor SoftBank Vision Fund is preparing to launch another giant investment venture.
Vision Fund 2 will aim to pull in existing investors such as the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia and Mubadala in the UAE, the biggest investors in the original fund along with SoftBank, the Japanese group run by Masayoshi Son.
Sources told Arab News that Vision Fund 2 is expected to at least equal the original fund’s $97 billion fund, and could reach $150 billion — which would make it the largest private investment fund in history.
A team from SoftBank Investment Advisers led by its chief executive Rajeev Misra and Masayoshi Son have been in preliminary discussions with potential investors for several months.
They have been talking to sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as big global corporates, some of which were also investors in the first fund.

*** Read our full interview with CEO Rajeev Misra here: SoftBank Vision Fund stands shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia — CEO Rajeev Misra ***
Investment is also expected from global banks, insurance companies and pension funds, and SoftBank is expected to put up about $40 billion.
The first phase of the launch is due to end “in the next few months,” with a final close around 12 months later.
The original fund plans to return profits to existing investors over the next few months, including big partners such as PIF, Mubadala and SoftBank. If they see healthy returns they may be more likely to invest heavily in the new fund.
The interests of Saudi Arabia and the Vision Fund align as the Kingdom diversifies away from reliance on oil, Misra told Arab News. “Our commitment is to support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia, high-tech jobs not blue collar, over the next few years,” he said.