Loans for rooftop solar are heating up in Egypt

egyptian solar energy for residential consumersTwo Egyptian banks are moving into green lending with an initiative to finance rooftop solar power systems for residential consumers. National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr are offering loans within specific areas of Cairo, with plans to expand into Egypt’s other governorates. How will that work in a mostly Muslim country, where interest payments are forbidden by Islamic law? 

Energy Committee Head Magid Eldeen Almanzlaoy said the loans are a product of a tripartite contract between private banks, state-owned electricity companies and the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA). Interest rates will range from 4% to 8%, depending on the size of the systems installed.

The program emerged in part due to an EBA study assessing the feasibility of rooftop solar energy generation in Egypt. With an incessantly sunny climate and some of the world’s highest insolation levels, Egypt is a solar-power-generating Nirvana.  The country – which is the most populous Arab nation – is rolling out an ambitious renewable energy program for meeting surging domestic energy demand while curbing reliance on fossil fuel imports. Egypt aspires to obtain 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Egypt subsidizes domestic energy and has committed to continuing to do so for at least another five years. Encouraging domestic production of home energy is a practical approach to wean the nation off increasingly expensive gas-dependent electricity. Rooftop solar units for energy and water heating are mature and affordable; the obstacles to the scheme lie beyond economics and technology.

Citizen participants who repay their loans will be able to sell excess electricity produced from their solar units back to the national grid. Simple enough, and a standard feature of most programs that encourage distributed energy production. But most Egyptians have never paid interest on a loan before.

Aisha Abdelhamid, a writer with blog CleanTechnica, voiced healthy cynicism that  the scheme will succeed. She wrote that ‘interest’ is “just another form of ‘rashwah’ in just about any intelligent Egyptian’s opinion.” She explained, “‘Rashwah’ is the Arabic word for Egypt’s corrupt system of paying for favors for common, everyday services like getting the light bulb changed on the state-owned electric pole on a street corner.”

And how does this jibe with a longstanding culture of civilian distrust of government?  It doesn’t deter Almanzlaoy’s optimism that the plan will succeed. “The initiative will be implemented during the first quarter of the current year, particularly as the legislative structure of the new tariff for renewable energy put Egypt on the map of countries producing electricity from renewable sources,” he said.

Back to Ms. Abdelhamid who writes, “’Legislative’? ‘Structure’? We don’t even have a Parliament right now!”

Egypt’s plans for residential solar power generation are definitely heating up.


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8 thoughts on “Loans for rooftop solar are heating up in Egypt”

  1. Laurie Balbo says:

    Sharia-compliant finance prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money, whether the payment is fixed or floating. Perhaps you would share with our global readers your views on how then “low interest loans” work in Egypt?

    Thanks for your comment. Omar.

  2. Omar Elgeddawy says:

    I dont know exactly who wrote this post Laurie Balbo? I dont really care… But to read the statement that Egypt is a Muslim Country therefore Interest rates are forbidden is a statement of Ignorance depicting Egypt as a retarded country where we live on camels as the economy is ruled outside the banking sectors and people are all anti business or donot invest in banks, donot know what time deposits are or loans… So does the author knows anything about Islamic Finance if this is a real Topic? Of course not… But surely the author is ignorant of Egypt purely and simply… I would urge that only real experts are participating in such articles because the silence of ignorants is a real virtue …

  3. M. says:

    I seriousy don’t know what you mean by bright days, they are back under an even worse political regime, people are killed by dozens just for peacefully protesting or just for saying things (no freedom of expression anymore), absolutely huge corruption and unfairness, Egypte have more problems right now, serious problems that threatens it’s own existence!! Wake up!

  4. rebeccafrank says:

    It is great that Egypt is experiencing the brighter days instead of the dark times. Solar energy systems are eco-friendly and are best for regions where there is a less or no electricity. Moreover they are the best sources of energy in the days to come.

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