Avoiding corruption during large-scale solar installation projects

The importance of ensuring transparency and integrity during SA’s solar boom.

South Africa is experiencing a remarkable surge in solar power installations to combat load shedding and has even been likened to a gold rush. Frank Spencer, a spokesperson for the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), estimates that the number of installations has quadrupled in some places, with high demand noted in Cape Town, Gauteng, and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

However, it is important to ensure that this solar boom is not accompanied by corruption.

Look out for unethical practices

The increased adoption has unfortunately attracted individuals seeking to exploit the growing solar market. “Being part of the alternative energy industry, our personal networks often approach us to review personal projects and provide guidance,” explained Sakkie van Wijk, Co-Founder and COO at Solarise Africa.

“Sadly, we are uncovering more and more questionable activities. Dubious transactions with multiple layers of supply chains add markups and kickbacks that lead to inflated project costs and compromised installations. We’ve even found large deals that were concluded with mere handshakes and absolutely no paperwork – no scope, so service level agreements, no system specifications – this is typically at least double the actual cost. We urge everyone in the process of adopting solar to scrutinise every aspect of the deal,” said Van Wijk.

Requirements for large-scale installations

To maintain the utmost integrity in solar installations, it is imperative to comply with all legal requirements.

“All solar projects must obtain authorisation from the appropriate authorities, such as municipalities, for grid connection. Municipalities do not charge a fee for these approvals, but still we’ve come across exorbitant “authorisation fees” that are fake and misleading”.

For large-scale solar installations, there are also specific building plan requirements that must be met. These requirements encompass various aspects, including the positioning and elevation of solar panels. In the case of elevated or ground-mounted systems, careful consideration should be given to the height of the panels above the natural or finished ground level. Adhering to these building plan requirements is crucial to guarantee the safety, efficiency, and long-term sustainability of large-scale projects.

Upholding transparency and integrity

“At Solarise Africa, we are unwavering in our commitment to maintaining transparency and integrity throughout all our operations,” explained van Wijk.

Solarise Africa adheres to the guidelines set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and employ rigorous Environmental, Social, and Governance (ES&G) due diligence processes.

“These processes enable us to identify and eliminate any potential instances of corruption, bribery, extortion, or kickbacks within our large-scale solar projects. We firmly believe that sustainable renewable energy adoption can only be achieved through ethical practices, ensuring the trust of our partners and stakeholders, and we offer a guaranteed ethical solution to anyone who wants to adopt large-scale solar”, said Van Wijk.


South Africa’s solar boom holds immense potential for combating load shedding, driving economic growth, and fostering a greener future. However, to ensure the success of this transformative journey, it is essential to address the possibility of corruption and promote ethical practices within large-scale solar installation projects.

By adhering to legal and construction requirements, and partnering with organisations like Solarise Africa, South Africa can build a future powered by clean and sustainable energy while upholding transparency, integrity, and fairness.

Sakkie van Wijk - COO Solarise Africa

Solarise Africa is a pan-African Energy-as-a-Service company. They provide reliable and affordable decentralised energy solutions energy for businesses in Africa. Their smart financing solutions unlock possibilities and empower their partners to thrive and actively drive Africa’s progress. For more information, visit www.solariseafrica.com