JOHANNESBURG - Actis, one of the biggest investors of private capital in Africa, could invest up to $300 million annually in renewable energy and gas-fired power projects on the continent, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Actis has invested over $2 billion in energy infrastructure in Africa over the past two decades in utility scale renewable projects, commercial and industrial solar plants and power generation with natural gas.
Lisa Pinsley, Actis' Head of Energy in the Middle East and Africa, said it wanted to ramp up those investments.
"We could be looking at investing $200 to $300 million a year if the opportunity presents itself," she told Reuters in an interview.
"We certainly have the appetite, and we have the funds. It's a question of whether we find the right opportunity."
Africa has just a 2% share of global renewable capacity compared with 8% for South America and 48% for Asia, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Growing the continent's renewables capacity presents an opportunity for investors, Pinsley said. But Actis will need to weigh the return on investments versus other regions.
Most utilities in Africa are still state-owned and many suffer from financial distress. Returns will therefore need to reflect that risk in order to attract private investors, she said.
Actis will also invest in gas infrastructure and gas-to-power projects, Pinsley said, but added it would not invest in any liquid fuel or oil and gas exploration and production projects in Africa.
Africa accounts for less than 3% of the world's energy-linked carbon emission but it is the most disproportionately hit by climate change.
African leaders at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt have argued they must be allowed to develop oil and gas resources to help lift their people out of poverty.
(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee Editing by Joe Bavier and Mark Potter)