10x growth: Seeing opportunity in South Africa’s energy crisis

South Africa has grappled with electricity shortages for over a decade. In recent years, increased scheduled power outages, known locally as load shedding, have left some regions without power for up to 10 hours a day in severe instances. This situation has compelled many households and businesses to adopt solar power solutions for electricity generation. Between March and June 2023, rooftop solar capacity in South Africa expanded by 349% to 4.4 GW.

In 2021, Africa-focused private equity firm Adenia invested in its first South African enterprise, Herholdt’s, which is a distributor of renewable energy products such as solar panels, batteries and inverters. According to Alexis Caude, managing partner of Adenia, Herholdt’s Group’s revenue has surged tenfold since his firm’s investment. Last year Adenia further invested in the sector through Enfin, a firm that finances solar solutions for businesses, farms, sectional titles, and schools looking to adopt solar power without bearing the full upfront costs.

Caude points out that generating solar power in South Africa is more economically viable than in markets like Europe and the US, where the solar industry often depends on government subsidies. “It’s actually cheaper to install your panels and produce your [own] electricity than buy it on the grid … In South Africa, given the amount of sun that you have every day, it’s actually an industry that is extremely cost efficient,” he says.

Read our full interview with Alexis Caude: From solar power to luxury roses – Investor discusses opportunities in Africa