Black Lite Solar, the black empowered venture geared to delivering a multibillion rands solar panel manufacturing facility in South Africa, Eastern Cape, has crossed a critical line. The company announced today that it has received equity investment (23%) from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and R900m commitment in tax incentives issued via the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Today’s announcement adds impetus to a path that should deliver a thin film solar panel manufacturing facility by the first quarter of 2015 thereby creating thousands of jobs in the eastern Cape.
The Black Lite Solar project fits into South Africa’s ambition to build a renewable energy industry. South Africa has launched a massive, close to R100bn, investment into boosting contribution of renewable energy to its national power grid and aims to leverage from this to build an industry that can be exported. The money committed now can be treated as a first phase given South Africa’s ambition to boost renewable energy contribution towards 45% within the national grid.
Black Lite Solar has teamed up with German engineering group Manz AG. The partnership with Black Lite Solar is timed to set up a manufacturing facility in the Easter Cape to supply the local and reachable export markets.
Black Lite Solar has sprung out of a venture led by veteran BBBEE champion Ajay LaluNEF CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa said the Black Lite Solar investment was consistent with NEF’s black economic empowerment (BEE) mandate and in this case the NEF is supporting the development of black industrialists.
Mthethwa said “The NEF is committed to industrialistion and through this investment in Black Lite Solar, the NEF is giving support to government’s programme of localisation…”
She said the project will benefit local content and local manufacturing of PV products, not simply local assembly.
The minister of trade and industry Rob Davies said his department is fully supportive to the Black Lite Solar project as it gives life to government’s ambition of developing black industrialists. He said the department approved a R900m “S121 tax allowance package with SARS for the project”. This project is based in the Eastern Cape IDZ and will create new high quality jobs in that province. We therefore approved a further R9m skills development incentive to Black Lite Solar,” said Davies.
Dieter Manz, an executive of Manz AG said South Africa and the broader African continent were positioned as a high growth solar energy market. He said Manz was set to support development of a facility that will produce the most suitable technology for Africa, the CIGS thin film photovoltaic technology. “It is the most relevant PV technology for South Africa and Africa as a whole.”
“Renewable energy has taken off in South Africa and we are very excited by the support and active participation if the South African government in creating a friendly environment for international investors in the green economy,” said Dieter Manz.
Black Lite CEO Sanjay Soni said this was an exciting moment for the company and for the country. The commitment by Manz is testimony to international confidence on South Africa. He added that the DTI and the NEF must be commended for supporting the project.