Aqora rebrands, aims to make battery cells in Cape Town

1st March 2024 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

South African energy company Aqora has rebranded to become Afrivolt, says MD Deshan Naidoo.

The firm’s goal, however, remains the same – opening a lithium-ion cell gigafactory in South Africa, able to produce anodes, cathodes and lithium-ion batteries for stationary storage applications and, in the medium term, for electric vehicles (EVs).

Procuring and processing the minerals and metals needed for the factory within Africa has become more of a longer-term plan, adds Naidoo, with cell production moving to the front of the queue.

“It has been difficult to raise capital in this challenging economic environment, so we have been forced to change our strategy and reduce our investment requirements.

“We view the immediate opportunity as cell manufacturing."

Naidoo says the lithium-ion battery cell plant is currently the subject of a due diligence process, with Afrivolt locked in talks with finance institutions to raise the required capital.

Afrivolt enlisted European institutions to conduct the feasibility studies.

“We are contracting various technical partners on the establishment of the plant,” says Naidoo.

“We are looking to house the cell factory at the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ), in Cape Town,” he adds, a departure from the initial plans for the Eastern Cape.

“It is the only greentech SEZ in Africa, a positive selling point for our international financiers. It is also easier to attract specialised talent to the Western Cape.”

The cell plant’s focus will be on local customers, as well as clientele in neighbouring countries.

The aim is to mitigate battery imports, create local jobs and stimulate domestic manufacturing opportunities.

Afrivolt aims to start with a 1.5 GWh facility, with the cells made from imported materials, which can then be expanded in a modular fashion to reach the ultimate capacity of 5 GWh.