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Gaia Energy project manager Charles Hary tells Sebastian Shehadi about how the renewable energy company is expanding beyond Morocco to all of Africa.

Q: What is Gaia’s expansion strategy?

A: Gaia Energy was founded to promote sustainable development and renewable energy in Morocco [but now has much larger ambitions]. Our global strategy target is to be known as the most established renewable energy developer in Africa. In order to meet this ambition, we have created Gaia branches in every target country, lead by a native professional. 

The local branch connects with the governmental authorities, such as the ministries of energy and grid operators. In addition to this, a field approach is conducted by Gaia’s local agents. Their presence enables Gaia to complete its community work and land right negotiation in early stage of development.

Due to this two-pronged approach, we are able to compress the duration of project development. The rapidly increasing energy demand in our target countries and the global movement towards sustainability promises huge growth potential for Gaia Energy.

Q: What is Gaia’s USP and business proposition?

A: Gaia Energy provides renewable energy development, reliable investments and specific services covering  the whole lifecycle of a project. Our core business is to develop, finance, construct and operate large-scale renewable energy projects in emerging markets. 

We deliver world-class renewable project development. We are unique in our ability to offer vertically integrated skills in a range of sustainable energy technologies. We can take a project from inception to generation. We combine technical, economical and political expertise to local knowledge, in order to strengthen our macroeconomic analysis in emerging markets.

Q: What are the main things you consider when starting a new project in a new country?

A: Legal framework, the country’s renewable energy ambition and objectives, feed-in tariffs, wind and solar resources, and the national electric grid.

Q: And what are the biggest challenges (or opportunities) to your company investing abroad?

A: Gaia Energy is committed to social practices in our project communities.

Social engagement is a central aspect of sustainable development. Therefore, Gaia Energy strengthens the existing social structure in the region of its projects. This is achieved by financing projects that are customised to the needs of the community. 

The main target is to provide concepts that sustain for long time after our engagement. Gaia’s work is not about developing, but about spreading a way of development. 

In order to achieve this, we co-operate with experienced non-governmental organisations. Our values merge with their expertise, enabling us to ensure the long-term impact of our engagement. Hence, we attract native organisations that want to [get involved] in social activities in order to help those that need it.

Q: What else do you think is interesting or relevant to your operation?

A: Our business model offers flexible and diversified approaches tailored to various investors’ profiles. Gaia Energy established a risk-management system for the investment decisions-making process. Our local teams evaluate the sociopolitical context of each project. Being an early mover in Africa, we are able to choose sites with sophisticated requirements and make reliable risk assessments.

Our wind, solar and hydro business opportunities are spread over 11 emerging markets. We understand that the development and construction phases are particularly riskier than the operation phase where projects starts generating cash and energy, but we have a deep understanding of these risks and a track record in managing them. 

We are proud to be the bridge between emerging markets and international investors allowing them to have access to reliable investment opportunities.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine

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