Home » Nigerian entrepreneur and energy tycoon Michael J. Prest ventures into renewable energy

Nigerian entrepreneur and energy tycoon Michael J. Prest ventures into renewable energy

by Yusuf Abdulfatai
Michael J. Prest

Petrodel, an African oil exploration and trading firm founded by Nigerian tycoon Michael J. Prest, is making a strong foray into the renewable energy sector.

Sources say that the energy firm has partnered with Canadian solar firm Skypower to develop utility-scale solar energy projects in Africa, Turks and Caicos, and the wider Caribbean.

“Petrodel’s commitment to renewable energy transition is anchored on Michael’s long held conviction that affordable (renewable) energy is transformational and will bring about positive outcomes for those currently disenfranchised due to the unattainable or unaffordable energy in the markets we operate in,” a company spokesperson stated in an interview in Nevis on Friday.

Prest’s new venture is gaining strong traction in Zambia, where it has aligned itself with new Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema’s vision to increase the use of renewable energy.

The need for an energy mix is of fundamental urgency for Zambia, where growth in power demand has outpaced new capacity.

Due to Zambia’s expansive landmass and sparse population, extending the national power grid to remote rural areas makes sound sense, but has proven difficult. Diesel generators provide electricity to many remote rural regions. These are costly and have a significant impact on the environment. Their emissions also include greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Developing domestic renewable sources will help the nation reduce dependence on oil and coal and strategically position Zambia and Hichilema as global leaders.

Prest sought the hiring of James Weber, founder of August International Capital, to support the group’s new renewable energy initiatives and ambitions.

Weber has formulated a first-of-its-kind blueprint for the deployment of solar mortgages in the Caribbean and is looking to roll out the product in Africa where Prest has a significant financial services presence.

Weber has a background in private equity and project finance in frontier and emerging markets.

Petrodel Resources has oil exploration licenses in Tanzania, where it hopes to drill East Africa’s first black oil discovery in the next two years.

Petrodel was established in 2001 by Prest, an oil trader and former protégé of commodities trader, and “King of Oil” Marc Rich.

Prest is also the founder of Bank of Nevis International (BONI), an international bank offering private and wealth management services and is the second largest shareholder in Investrust Bank Plc of Zambia.

BONI most recently entered into a strategic trade finance intermediary relationship with Afreximbank, thus creating bridges for increased trade between Africa and the Caribbean, two regions of the world where Prest has a significant footprint.

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