British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday announced a more than £56 million ($72 million) contribution through the Clean Technology Fund to a $500 million investment in battery storage developed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank in partnership with the government of South Africa.
The announcement was made as part of May’s trip to South Africa to deepen the U.K.’s business, trading, diplomatic and research partnerships with the country, according to a press release from the government.
"Battery storage involves storing electricity so that it can be used later- important in filling in the gaps when it is overcast or no wind. These batteries are a very real alternative to fossil fuels like coal and gas, making energy supply secure," the statement read.
"This project, the first of its kind in the region, will use an innovative technology to transform the country's energy system, supporting South Africa’s long-term commitment to decreasing carbon emissions by developing bold, new renewable technologies – bringing about a climate revolution whilst also enabling the creation of thousands of jobs for young South Africans," it added.
As part of her three-day visit, the prime minister also announced new projects that will develop closer research ties to help transform local economies by improving harvesting techniques and developing healthcare technologies.
During her trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, the prime minister also announced a new phase of the U.K.’s support to the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) partnership.
"This new £3.7 million ($4.8 milion) investment will fund training for 35 students to PhD and Masters level," the statement said, adding the investment would see a new generation of radio astronomers develop their skills into other big data areas, helping develop and improve ways of managing land to help with harvests, as well as targeted health service provision so more people across Africa get the right treatments at the right time.
The government also announced the next phase of the U.K.-Nigeria Climate Finance Accelerator. The initiative matches government, project developers, finance market players from Nigeria, with experts in climate finance and investment in green projects from London.
"The U.K. can share expertise with Nigeria on how to invest in green projects, from increasing the country’s renewable capacity to improving the resilience of food chains," it said.
Funding has also been granted to nine projects to develop food security through joint research. The work will focus on improving African farming systems and developing sustainable agriculture. Resolving some of the threats to produce include looking to the benefits of grass pea in drought-prone environments and using natural pest regulation to ensure the successful harvest of legumes.
Additionally, the government has committed £1.5 million ($1.95 million) to a new research fund to help African researchers study the effects of climate change and explore climate issues that are most important to them and their own countries.
During the visit, it was also confirmed that the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, which encourages ambitious and talented sub-Saharan African engineers to develop solutions to local challenges, will receive further £500,000 ($650,000) funding boost.
By Hale Turkes