Tycoon Mwale links up with American firm to build DRC battery plant


A second-hand batteries vendor sorts used cells for export to Chinese and Indian car battery manufacturers. PHOTO | AFP

Kenyan tycoon Julius Mwale has partnered with an American firm to build a battery plant in the mineral rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to power smart cities.

The battery plant to be constructed by the US Engineering and infrastructure firm KE International has enlisted Mr Mwale as one of its key partners in the project.

The plant will manufacture electric power storage batteries to power smart cities—which use technology to provide services and solve city problems-- in Africa.

"We are investing in building a 16 Gigawatt (16 terawatt) battery manufacturing plant in the DRC, to help power our smart cities in Kenya and the rest of Africa," Mr Mwale said in a statement.

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Mr Mwale is behind the Mwale City that seeks to transform Lunza, a sleepy village in Kakamega County, into a ‘Silicon Valley’ worth at least Sh200 billion.

The worth, size and construction dates of the plant were not revealed.

Mr Mwale said he inked fundraising deals at a recent global conference with different financiers and partners for the DRC plant

“The new partnerships will enable us to expand Mwale Medical tourism city model across Africa, where we have secured 18 locations for smart cities expansion," he said.

Mwale said KE International which oversaw the construction of Mwale City in Kenya will be in charge of completing the battery power plant in DRC.

The plant is being built next to Cobalt and Nickel mines belonging to the tycoon in DRC, he added.

"This is expected to solve the supply chain issues, in battery supplies in the world. The batteries will also be used to power electric vehicles, bicycles, and for residential and commercial purposes,” said Mwale.

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The electric battery market is estimated to be worth $45 trillion between now and 2050. Electric batteries were the 38th most traded product in 2020 at $67 billion according to OEC, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology's data analysis firm.

Mwale's smart cities could make him a key player in the battery storage market due to the ownership of power plants like one at Mwale City.

Expanding that to Electric vehicle batteries, residential and commercial storage will guarantee sustainability of smart cities worldwide, analysts have said.

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