Two 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.

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.

Citizen participants who repay their loans will be able to sell excess electricity produced from their solar units back to the national grid.