Boris Atanassov, Director, Mayra Pereira, Director, GreenLight

GreenLight looks to provide renewable energy solutions in Mozambique and beyond.

Please provide a brief introduction to GreenLight and the company’s presence in Mozambique?

Boris Atanassov (BS): GreenLight was founded in 2010 as a consulting firm and over the years, the company gradually transformed into a project development and implementation company. We specialize in renewable energy projects where we are involved in project development, research, feasibility studies, and consulting services. Our other focus area is the environmental services sector where our business includes environmental impact assessments, auditing, monitoring and the development of environmental plans for the industry to be more sustainable.

GreenLight have been the pioneers in the sectors that we operate in and we provide great research and development services to many innovative projects in Mozambique. One of the innovative projects on which we were the lead consultants and developers was the introduction of ethanol for cooking stoves.

How many active projects does GreenLight currently have underway in both your operating spheres?

BS: Currently GreenLight has four active biomass projects. We are shareholders in the ECO Green project which is a public-private partnership between us, the University of Eduardo Mondlane and Eco Energia. The ECO Green project entails the production of ethanol to address the fuel shortage in Mozambique and this project will feed into our ethanol cook stove project that has already been completed.

GreenLight is the developer of the sustainable charcoal production project that is also currently active and the pilot for this project is funded by the Belgium government. This project was GreenLight’s own initiative and we have the University of Eduardo Mondlane, and the Mozambican Energy Fund (FUNAE) as our partners. More than 80% of Mozambique’s population relies predominantly on biomass as one of their primary energy sources and just in Maputo (the capital), approximately 75% of the population cooks with charcoal. Cooking with charcoal is not only has various health consequences, but it also has a great environmental impact as natural forest resources are being overused.

With the sustainable charcoal production project, GreenLight wants to address the environmental impacts and we are working closely with charcoal producers to educate them on more sustainable production and forest management practices. The objective of the project is to commercialize more sustainable charcoal in the end of production and to achieve this, we will introduce a certification system whereby producers must comply with sustainable production and forest management practices for their product to be bought by the government. We will only retail certified charcoal.

Our third active biomass project, where we act as project advisors and consultants, entails electricity production systems that run on cotton waste. The construction phase of the cotton waste electricity project will be launched in 2016 and the project will result in the electrification of close to 800 families in off grid villages such as Titiman in the Niassa province. These villages are mainly cotton producers that will now be able to earn extra income through their waste materials.

GreenLight is also involved in solar energy projects. Recently GreenLight has piloted a project assessing the potential for a rural distribution network for solar home systems. Another achievement in solar energy was conducted in partnership with the Mozambican Housing Fund (FFH) and FUNAE to create the first sustainable model home showcasing energy efficiency and renewable energy practices.

Mayra Pereira (MP): We are currently working on two environmental impact assessments for transmission lines in the North and Center of Mozambique and another assessment is also being done for our cotton waste project. We are also actively involved in the monitoring of a commercial entity in Maputo and we are working on a resettlement project for a new public transportation system.

We are currently working on various environmental and social impact assessments throughout the country with the majority of the projects in the north of Mozambique. These ESIAs include transmission lines, pipelines, and mini-grids. We are also involved in projects in the tourism sector in Maputo and in the Bazaruto Archipelago, which is a national park. Last year we were involved with a resettlement project for a new public transportation system. The mini-grid projects are particularly interesting as they have a biomass component which will use plant residues that by law have to be burnt. This will provide an additional income for the local farmers while preventing deforestation and the emission of greenhouse gases.

GreenLight’ services and solutions range from community based initiatives to blue chip clients. Is there potential to overlap the services offered across the different types of projects?

BS: GreenLight conducted a feasibility study for Anadarko, and then also completed a solar electrification project for the resettlement of a community. We prefer projects that are focused on the energy sector and would like to integrate our services into these projects. We also provide services for the national utility ( Electricidade de Moçambique) in the form of feasibility studies and ESIAs for their grid extension programs.

How is GreenLight structured in terms of human resources?

BS: GreenLight consists seven project managers of which each person has a core specialty. The team consists of an environmental practitioner, social and resettlement specialist, physical anthropologist, engineer, energy specialist, economist, and an agro forestry specialist. GreenLight has very diverse projects and therefore we work with consultant networks and specialized teams will be formed through our database of experts when necessary. We are not constricted to Mozambique and we use both local and international consultants.

What is GreenLight’s international aspirations and are you looking to expand?

BS: GreenLight has been working with international clients and bidding for international tenders. We have recently been awarded a tender by the World Bank related to the biomass energy sector and business development of the sector in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Madagascar, and Kenya. We have a team working in each of the countries, looking at the market environment for businesses to develop in the biomass sector. We are in a position to export our knowledge of what we have achieved in Mozambique, to other African countries. We have also been looking into the solar energy sector of Kenya and can use that knowledge to expand our operation here in Mozambique.

What goals does GreenLight hope to achieve over the next two years?

BS: GreenLight would like to increase the scale of the commercial projects that we invest in and the objective is also to increase our economic scalability. In the next two years, we hope to have our pilot projects as commercially viable businesses. GreenLight aims to be one of the leading firms in the renewable energy and environmental services sectors. We would also like to expand our network of partners in the near future and we can offer multinational companies our knowledge of operations in Mozambique.

Do you have a final message for our international readership looking to enter energy sector in Mozambique?

BS: GreenLight is a very innovative company that thinks out of the box as we have a very diverse team. We can offer a significant amount of personalized tailored services to our clients as we form specialized teams around our projects. The energy sector in Mozambique is restructuring and rules, regulations and policies are shifting as to create an investor friendly environment. Independent power producers will soon be able to come into Mozambique and sell electricity. We believe that Mozambique has immense potential in terms of offering services to address energy access in the country. Mining operations in remote areas of Mozambique also create opportunities for companies operating in the energy sector.

This interview was part of research being conducted by GBR for its Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide (MACIG) 2017. The 2016 edition of MACIG was published in February and can be accessed here. The GBR team is currently in Mozambique conducting the necessary research and interviews for the mining and oil & gas sectors. To participate in this report, please contact Molly Concannon at mconcannon@gbreports.com or +258 82 559 4115.

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