ATI-backed Garden City Mall shows building green can also be profitable

NAIROBI, 5 May, 2016 – When Garden City Mall opened its doors one year ago, in May, 2015, it set records on many fronts. It was the second largest mall in East Africa after the upcoming Two Rivers Mall also in Kenya. But perhaps the most important is the moniker of the mall with Africa’s largest solar carport system.

The flagship $540 million project is an integrated residential, retail park, hotel and office development complex in Nairobi. The mall boasts a clean energy solution that generates 858 kWp of clean solar electricity per year while reducing the mall’s electricity bill by 40% or over $300,000, as well as a 750 tonne annual reduction in carbon emissions.

The brainchild behind the development is real estate developer, Actis. The company chose to install 3,366 solar panels on the carports to produce a hybrid system that provides solar energy in the daytime to the 120 major local and international retailers in the mall. This results in less energy consumption from the national grid while also reducing reliance on the more costly diesel option – which fuels back-up generators.

With solar production estimated to be doubling every two years and an average drop in cost of 100 times in the last 40 years, solar is predicted by the International Energy Agency to be the number one producer of electricity by 2050.

The Garden City Mall project is seen as an important step toward changing the mind set of consumers and investors from the traditional thinking that going green is costly.

Solar advisory and finance platform, SolarAfrica offered a creative finance solution that meant Actis didn’t need to pay all the upfront costs to design, procure and install the system. Instead, the carport installation will be paid for based on the power it produces wile Solar Africa will operate and maintain the system for 12 years supported by guarantees covering power and equipment performance.

“We see energy as the next frontier. Our member countries have identified the development of this sector as key to their long-term viability. In the coming years we hope to begin putting in place insurance solutions that can be applied across the sector to support our country’s development objectives,” notes ATI’s CEO, George Otieno.

ATI’s anticipated long-term involvement in the project is part of an underlying strategy to begin specialising in underwriting energy sector projects across Africa. The move is supported in part by a technical assistance granted funded by the European Investment Bank.

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