Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote during the Banguweulu Solar (Neoen/First Solar) Project Commissioning

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote
Banguweulu Solar (Neoen/First Solar) Project Commissioning
Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone
March 11, 2019

(as prepared for delivery)

Your Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia;
Honorable Minister of Energy Mathew Nkhuwa;
Zambian government officials;
Industrial Development Corporation and ZESCO Representatives;
First Solar and Neoen Representatives;
Fellow members of the diplomatic corps;
Ladies and gentlemen;
All other protocols observed.

I certainly love it when a plan comes together.  And thanks to a remarkable partnership, we celebrate Zambia’s first utility-scale solar project that will provide affordable power to the country’s households, schools, hospitals, and businesses.

On behalf of the U.S. government, I would like to highlight the support and partnership on this project made possible by our Power Africa initiative, which included $2 million of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development that decreased both the risk and the project’s overall tariffs.  The U.S. government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, contributed $13 million in long-term financing to this project, and the American firm, First Solar, also contributed funding as well as the American solar panels you see blanketing the landscape today.

What excites me about this project, besides being the first of its kind in Zambia, is the model it represents.  Many have expressed this sentiment before, but it bears repeating today.  It is not the U.S. government, French government, or the Zambian government that is going to grow our economies, provide jobs, and provide opportunities for our people.  It is the private sector.  Our governments provide the enabling environment for the private sector to seek out opportunity. And that is what this project signifies today.

This project is not development as usual.  It is a partnership.  It is an investment, where our governments support a business model that makes sense.  Because it makes sense, it is sustainable.  It delivers value for the Zambian people and value for the private sector in all of our countries.  It does not add directly to Zambia’s external debt, but shifts much of the business risk to industry.  In particular, this project demonstrates transparent value because it is delivering some of the most affordable renewable solar power in the region—the envy of Zambia’s neighbors.

Without the vision and persistence of those present today and many who could not join us, this cutting edge endeavor would simply not be possible.  Congratulations!  Let me conclude by calling for our continued commitment to these types of investments and partnerships between all of our institutions and governments represented here today.  Thank you.