Namibia in southern Africa is expected to see its first large-scale PV plant come online early next year following a ground-breaking ceremony last week.

The 4.5MW project is being built in Omburu, to the north-west of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, by French company InnoSun.

Power from the project will be sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement to Namibian utility, NamPower. According to InnoSun, its output will be roughly 11,025MWh per year, enough to supply 1% of Namibia’s electricity consumption.

Speaking to PV Tech, Marc Piquer Coll, InnoSun’s project manager for network connections, said the Omburu project would be complete in March 2015. Meanwhile, he said the company had another PV project of a similar size ready to go in Namibia next year and a pipeline of between 30 and 50MW of other projects in the country.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Namibia’s minister of mines and energy, Isak Katali, quoted by a local news agency, said: “As a government some of our aims and objectives with regards to energy include: improving the level of innovation with technology, the supply of electricity and especially the security of supply and in turn self-sustainability of energy supply.”

Katila had previously called for an increase in the deployment of solar in Namibia, particularly in off-grid locations.

Indeed, a number of prominent companies are beginning to look at Namibia, having established themselves in South Africa’s booming renewables market. Among them are Norway’s Scatec Solar and China-based ReneSola, which set up a Cape Town office in January as a base for expanding into other markets.

Piguer Coll said InnoSun had gained experience of the region through the development of a 105MW wind portfolio in South Africa.