In June, Botswana, the world’s largest producer of diamonds, invited bids for the construction of a 100-megawatt (MW) solar powered plant. Currently Botswana, which enjoys top rankings in African quality-of-life surveys, only has one operable power station, the 600-MW coal-powered Morupule plant. The announcement came as part of a broader plan to achieve energy self-sufficiency within five years. Botswana, like many other frontier markets, experiences regular power and water shortages, which create serious impediments to economic growth.
The cost of renewable energy, and particularly solar power, has dropped considerably in recent years. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power International won a contract in Dubai to build a 200-MW solar power project that will sell electricity at 5.85 cents per kilowatt-hour, a price that will be “the lowest by far” for solar power globally.