The off-grid communities of Cuando Cubango, Cuanza Sul and Lunda Sul in Angola are finally getting electricity. Launched in 2016, a photovoltaic electrification project led by the energy company LTP Energias is bringing solar energy to these three provinces, where the public grid was insufficient to supply electricity to everyone.
The company was founded in Angola in 2011. Since then, it has opened offices in Portugal and Spain, and managed to consolidate its position as the country’s green energy leader by undertaking, among others, the largest solar energy production project in the country.
Financed by the Angolan ministry of Energy and Water, LTP’s project contributes to increasing the country's electrification rates, using renewable energy sources. Once the project is completed, the state will invest a total of USD 60 million in the three provinces to install public lighting and provide the communities with solar kits (consisting of a solar panel, batteries and eco-friendly light bulbs) for neighbourhoods, houses, hospitals, medical centres and schools in rural areas.
Luís Figueiredo, executive director of LTP Energias, said the project already has a positive impact on the life of the communities. He stressed that now it is possible to keep small businesses open during the night, something that wasn’t possible before due to the lack of energy, and that families feel safer thanks to the street lighting.
LTP’s initiative could be considered experimental, if we take into account the country’s solar energy production indicators, but the businessman believes its necessary to intensify investments in the sustainable energy sector.
The company’s executive director recognizes the Angolan government’s efforts regarding renewable energy production projects in the country. "The systems are completely adaptable to their environment, to any location, and easy to handle. We’re in the middle of the project’s execution and there are villages that, in the next eight years, will never have to bear darkness again," he says, noting that, beyond the business, it is gratifying to "bring joy to the communities" with this kind of initiatives.
Figueiredo does not specifies exactly how many people already benefit from the first phase of his company’s project, but he explains that in a hospital or a medical centre, for instance, it is now "possible to illuminate every room easily with led lamps."
In terms of supply, Figueiredo says that even if the company’s kits are rather basic, they allow for schools and hospitals to ensure their services. In hospitals and health centres, for instance, aside from lightning, they provide the possibility to use refrigerators to properly conserve all the medicine, or power computers for administration purposes.
Thanks to LTP’s project, evening schools for adults have been able to open in two of the provinces. "In some areas of Lunda Sul and Cuanza Sul, there were only two school shifts [morning and afternoon], but today it is possible to find schools open at night for adults," explains the businessman, noting that the company is also working in two municipalities of the Cuando Cubango province (Cuíto Cuanavale and Mavinga) where the energy supply used to come exclusively from generators before 2016, due to access difficulties and lack of roads.
Today, LTP Energias has roughly 100 employees in Angola, 18 of which are foreigners who have moved to the country to work in the company’s projects. The company relies on business partnerships with the public sector to conduct lighting projects on public and national roads, and to install photovoltaic electric power parks to supply the general electric grid with solar energy.
Figueiredo expects the company’s 2018 turnover to reach USD 20 million by the end of the year, although its main focus is to expand its business portfolio to attract new orders from both the public and the private sectors. "We’re already supplying the Angolan government and the country’s private sector, and we are ready to take on new projects," he says.
While keeping the penetration rate of his company’s photovoltaic energy in the Angolan electricity system to himself, LTP Energias’ executive director acknowledges that more investments for off-grid solar energy projects could improve the country’s indicators, potentially increasing the quality of life of rural communities.