ABSA, AFD funds green firms

ABSA has signed an agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD) to give ß40-million (about R390-million) to companies pursuing clean-energy projects.

Over the past year, Absa Capital has provided R8.3-billion worth of credit commitments for renewable energy projects.

The announcement comes at a time when South Africa tries to move towards renewable energy.

Last month, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the government had approved infrastructure plans amounting to R845-billion over the next three years, of which under R300-billion would be spent in the energy sector.

Currently, 75% of the country's electricity is generated from coal, which still needs to grow.

Marcel de Klerk, Absa's head of business markets said: "It is for this reason that Absa has launched this loan facility to promote medium to large energy efficiency and clean production investments, with a minimum of R10-million and a maximum of R100-million, specifically within the South African market."

He said Absa had dedicated an energy finance committee, which would consider the eligibility of projects that may qualify for the concessionary benefit.

Projects will include those pertaining to improving existing installations and renewable energy investments, encompassing power generation for own consumption or for sale to the national grid.

De Klerk said Absa would predominantly be focussing on its existing clients who are either entering into energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.

"In this way, we intend rewarding those clients who embark on significant energy saving projects," he said.

AFD's deputy-director in Johannesburg, Damien Navizet, said energy-efficient investments were too often lagging behind due to lack of financing, which had further delayed the development of a local green industry and the creation of "green" jobs.

"It is critical that banks understand both the risks and financial merits of clean energy and energy efficient projects, so that they are willing to create new lines of business to assist owners of such projects," Navizet said