Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA

Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA
Blue solar battery cells in Salmonsdam Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa. Shutterstock
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Updated 17 June 2024

Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA

Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA

RIYADH: Africa’s rising energy demand requires substantial investments in clean power projects, which is crucial for the continent’s sustainable economic growth, an analysis revealed.

In its latest report, the International Energy Agency said that Africa’s aspiration for greater economic and social development depends on access to an affordable, reliable, modern and sustainable supply of power. 

According to IEA, meeting the growing energy demand from African countries requires requires more than doubling the current annual investments to over $240 billion in the sector by 2030, of which three-quarters of the funds needs to be focused on clean technology. 

The organization also called for “swift action to tackle financial barriers so investment can reach the levels that are needed.”

IEA highlighted that $22 billion is required from 2023 to 2030 to connect all African homes and businesses to electricity, while $4 billion per year is needed to provide clean cooking solutions. 

“The lack of energy access in Africa is a great injustice, but increased spending on impactful projects could quickly turn the tide,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of IEA. 

Africa’s energy concerns

According to the agency, Africa remains energy-poor despite holding significant resources. 

The report highlighted that around 600 million Africans still lack access to electricity and more than 1 billion still cook their meals over open fires and traditional stoves using wood, charcoal, kerosene, coal and animal waste. 

The analysis suggested that the consequences of this lack of energy supply are dire in terms of health, education, climate, and economic and social development, with many of these impacts disproportionally affecting women and children in the continent. 

“There are also affordability challenges to consider; only half of households without electricity access today would be able to afford basic energy services without additional financial support, and even fewer would be able to afford modern cooking solutions,” said the report. 

It added: “A lack of reliable and affordable energy restrains Africa’s farmers from higher productivity; hinders industry, where energy prices and affordability remain key determinants in competitiveness; and limits the ability of countries to attract and cultivate new sectors of their economies.” 

Moreover, although Africa accounts for around 20 percent of the world’s population, it attracts less than 3 percent of energy spending. 

The study highlighted that investments in the energy sector on the continent have been falling since its peak in 2014 and are currently down 34 percent.

“Increasing investment in domestic energy systems faces hurdles, notably a shortage of bankable projects and the high cost of capital, which can be two to three times higher for renewable projects in Africa than in advanced economies,” said IEA.  

More than 1 billion Africans still cook their meals over open fires and traditional stoves. Shutterstock

Expansion of electricity holds the key

According to the report, around half of the energy funding required in Africa by 2030 is needed in electricity, where policies play a key role in attracting more investment. 

“Total electricity sector investment increases from just under $30 billion in 2022 to more than $120 billion in 2030 in the Sustainable Africa Scenario, with around 50 percent going toward renewable generation alone,” added the report. 

IEA further noted that Africa is home to the most cost-competitive green energy outlets in the world, with 60 percent of the best solar resources globally, and many countries on the continent have high-potential hydropower, geothermal, and wind resources.

The release noted that utility-scale renewable energy projects have found a foothold in African markets, where around 80 percent of clean projects by volume have reached investment decisions in the last five years. 

New industries to propel Africa’s energy sector 

The report projected that new industries, including those related to clean technologies, can support Africa’s growing energy sector. 

“Developing industry goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of Africa’s energy system. By 2030, Africa is projected to build more floor area than exists in Japan and Korea today,” said IEA. 

It added: “Accordingly, demand for steel and cement is set to grow considerably from today’s levels, alongside rising demand for irrigation pumps, cold chains, data centers and mining.” 

The analysis further highlighted that mineral exploration, and the manufacturing of clean energy technologies present practical opportunities to cultivate a growing industrial base in the continent. 

The report revealed that revenues from the production of copper and key battery metals in Africa are already estimated to be more than $20 billion annually, and with the current pipeline, the market value of this sector is expected to increase by 65 percent by the end of this decade. 

Additionally, if all initiatives under the pipeline come to fruition, low-emissions hydrogen production from announced electrolyzer projects in Africa could reach 2 tonnes by 2030. 

“Investments in these fast-growing sectors can help diversify global supply chains and reduce import burdens for Africa,” said IEA. 

It added: “If well-designed, these projects could also be powered by energy investments that serve Africa’s wider domestic energy needs and ensure their development creates jobs, supports local communities, and meets important health, safety, and labor criteria.” 

The analysis also underscored the importance of private sector involvement in ensuring Africa’s energy security. 

According to IEA, private sector spending needs to grow 2.5 times between 2022 and 2030 to meet Africa’s energy investment needs. 

“In the Sustainable Africa Scenario, $190 billion of private capital is required by 2030, growing from around $75 billion today,” said IEA. 

The study further noted that concessional capital from international sources will play a key role in mobilizing this increase, with an estimated $30 billion per year for clean energy projects required to mobilize commercial funding over the 2023 to 2030 period. 

Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit

Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit
Updated 15 sec ago

Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit

Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit

RIYADH: Food production localization was a key focus as a senior Saudi minister met with leading Brazilian companies during an official visit to one of the world’s top meat producers. 

The Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar AlKhorayef, held meetings with executives from major firms in the South American country, including Minerva Foods and JBS, which are prominent in the red meat and poultry sectors.  

The discussions aimed to explore opportunities for localizing food production within Saudi Arabia, transferring knowledge and innovations, and examining the latest advancements in modern manufacturing technologies. 

This visit highlights Saudi Arabia’s strategic effort to enhance production capabilities by fostering international partnerships and utilizing advanced manufacturing technologies.

It aligns with the Kingdom’s broader vision to diversify its economy and develop robust, sustainable industries in collaboration with global leaders. 

During the visit to Minerva Foods’ facilities, the minister reviewed advanced manufacturing technologies and discussed potential investment opportunities with company officials, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

Minerva Foods is a notable player in the Saudi market, where imports, particularly red meat, account for 25 percent of the industry. The Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., also known as SALIC, is a major investor in Minerva, holding a 33.8 percent stake. 

SALIC acquired a 19.5 percent stake in 2016 for $210 million, increasing its investment through additional purchases in 2018 and 2020, totaling $204 million. 

The minister also met with Gilberto Tomazoni, CEO of JBS, one of the world’s largest meat and poultry producers known for developing cultivation and production technologies.

JBS is currently establishing a food factory in Jeddah under the Seara brand, with an investment of up to SR500 million ($133.29 million). The facility is expected to start operations by the end of this year, aiming to address the food needs of the Saudi market. 

The partnerships with Minerva Foods and JBS underscore the Kingdom's dedication to ensuring a stable food supply while attracting foreign investment and expertise to its growing food industry, the SPA report added. 

The minister’s visit to meat production facilities came after he met with leading Brazilian pharma companies to discuss enhancing the localization of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, leveraging the country’s expertise.  

During his discussions, AlKhorayef emphasized the potential for collaboration, highlighting the sector’s importance to Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Strategy. 

Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement

Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement
Updated 36 min 4 sec ago

Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement

Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement

RIYADH: Turkiye has terminated a $5 billion deposit agreement made with the Saudi Fund for Development as part of a review of its reserve management strategy.

The decision to end the arrangement, finalized with Saudi authorities, is expected to improve Turkiye’s external liabilities by approximately $7 billion through the reduction of deposit balances, according to the country’s central bank.

The original deal was signed off in March 2023, and was intended to provide crucial financial support to the Turkish economy as it grappled with the aftermath of devastating earthquakes and high inflation rates. 

The country’s central bank announced the agreement had been ended as part of a reassessment of Turkiye’s international deposit transactions in a bid to lower its external liabilities.

International reserves are readily available assets controlled by countries’ monetary authorities that can be used for international payments and converted into other currencies, the bank said.

When the deal was initially reached, the Saudi Fund for Development described it as not only underscoring the strong historical ties and cooperation between the two nations, but also showcasing the Kingdom’s commitment to bolstering Turkiye’s economic stability.

Turkiye has been working to strengthen its economic and business relationships with Gulf nations, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as part of its strategy to attract foreign currency inflows. 

On March 3 2023, Turkiye and the UAE signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement to cut 93 percent of tariffs on non-oil trade and increase bilateral trade from $19 billion to $40 billion in the next five years.

Turkiye has struggled with a shortage of international reserves and high inflation rates, impacting living costs. 

In 2022, the Turkish lira depreciated by 30 percent against the dollar, exacerbated by soaring energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkiye is the 17th largest economy in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund, with a GDP of $1.024 trillion as of 2023.

In February 2023, the country contended with the aftermath of severe earthquakes which caused significant casualties, damage, and displacement, with recovery needs estimated at $81.5 billion.

Following the May 2023 elections, Ankara’s new economic team has aimed to address inflation and macroeconomic imbalances. 

The economy grew 4.5 percent in 2023 but is expected to slow to 3 percent this year.

Addressing long-term issues like high inflation, low productivity, and weak foreign investment “would require robust fiscal measures and ambitious structural reforms to help accelerate sustainable economic growth,” the World Bank said earlier in April.

Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors

Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors
Updated 14 min 29 sec ago

Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors

Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors
  • Transportation, storage, financial and insurance activities sectors each posted a growth rate of 5.6%
  • Trade sector recorded a 3% increase

RIYADH: Dubai’s economy saw 3.2 percent year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2024, with its gross domestic product reaching 115 billion dirhams ($31.3 billion). 

The transportation and storage sector, as well as the financial and insurance activities sector, each posted a growth rate of 5.6 percent, while the trade sector recorded a 3 percent increase. 

This comes as Dubai’s economy continues its upward trajectory, with significant growth across key sectors, reflecting the government’s strategic agenda to enhance the emirate’s global economic standing and attract foreign investment. 

Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum said the latest GDP figures cement that the emirate showcases robust economic indicators, the Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM, reported. 

“Dubai is progressing in accordance with a clear vision whose foundations were laid down and whose goals were defined by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. What we witness today is a practical reflection of this vision, which has placed Dubai among the leading economic and commercial centers of the world,” said Sheikh Hamdan. 

He added that the accomplishments of the emirate underscore the collaborative endeavors and teamwork of diverse stakeholders in achieving the goals set out in the emirate’s comprehensive development plans for 2033. 

The government’s plans include the Dubai Economic Agenda and Dubai Social Agenda 2033, both aimed at elevating overall well-being and quality of life, while strengthening the emirate’s position as a leading global economic hub and enhancing its appeal as a destination for foreign investments. 

“Dubai’s ambition is limitless, and its success story will remain a role model for cities wishing to create a promising future for their coming generations. Our goal is to sustain success and establish a culture of excellence and leadership across all sectors in the emirate to preserve these gains and move toward new horizons of excellence,” he added. 

Other sectors also contributed to the overall economic expansion, with the information and communications sector rising by 3.9 percent, the accommodation and food services sector increasing by 3.8 percent, and the real estate sector seeing growth of 3.7 percent. 

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry
Updated 24 July 2024

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s digital banking has achieved a significant advancement after a leading bank introduced artificial intelligence technology, significantly enhancing its operational efficiency and customer experience.

Riyad Bank announced on July 23 the launch of the first-of-its-kind specialized center for artificial intelligence technologies and services in the Saudi banking sector, known as the Center of Intelligence.

The center will allow the bank and its business sectors to harness the latest AI innovations and derive significant value from advanced, proactive analytical insights, while advancing the bank’s vision with the highest standards of quality and innovation, according to a statement from the financial institution.

The move aligns with the broader national goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, particularly the Financial Sector Development Program, which works together with the Saudi Central Bank to provide banking services that are more accessible.

The program is committed to contributing to the stability and growth of the banking system to make it even more convenient by investing in technology and offering a wide range of financial products and services.

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 
Updated 48 min 3 sec ago

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 
  • Education sector saw 10.4% increase, with total value of transactions hitting SR94.1 million
  • POS spending in the Kingdom continued its reverse trajectory, declining by 8.8%

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale spending reached SR10.9 billion ($2.9 billion) in the week ending July 20, with the education sector recording the largest surge, according to official data.

Figures released by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that this section of the economy saw a 10.4 percent increase over the seven-day period, with the total value of transactions hitting SR94.1 million.

The data also showed that spending in hotels increased by 0.2 percent compared to the previous seven days to reach SR270.2 million. 

This small rise came after larger increases in the sector in the previous two weeks, with a 17.9 percent surge from June 30 to July 6 and a 3.8 percent jump from July 7 to 13.

Despite growth in these sectors, POS spending in the Kingdom continued its reverse trajectory, declining by 8.8 percent after decreasing the week before by 9.8 percent. 

Spending on construction and building materials dipped by 5.2 percent over the most recent seven-day period, representing the smallest decrease of any sector compared to the previous week, to reach SR312.6 million.

The health sector witnessed the second-smallest dip, recording a 10.2 percent drop to come in at SR696.3 million.

Spending on clothing and footwear ranked joint-third in decline, along with electric devices, with both categories recording an 11.3 percent drop.

The highest value decrease was seen in the telecommunication sector, which posted a transaction total of SR89.5 million following a 13 percent drop.

Restaurant and cafe outlays dominated POS spending with SR1.67 billion, followed by SR1.64 billion on food and beverages, and SR1.41 billion on miscellaneous goods and services. Combined, these three categories account for 43.27 percent of the total POS spending value.

According to data from SAMA, 33.2 percent of POS spending occurred in Riyadh, with the total transaction value reaching SR3.63 billion, representing a 7.1 percent decline from the previous week.

Spending in Jeddah followed, accounting for 14.4 percent of the total and reaching SR1.58 billion, marking a 7.7 percent weekly negative change.

Expenditures in Hail, Tabuk, and Buraidah decreased by 14 percent, 12.4 percent, and 9.7 percent, respectively, with the figures reaching SR168.2 million, SR189.3 million, and SR249.6 million.

The smallest decrease was recorded in Makkah, which saw a 3.9 percent weekly change to come in at SR441.4 million.