US aid agency the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is supporting a drive by the government of Benin to increase access to off-grid power in the West African country.
Under a joint programme with the Benin government, the MCC is inviting proposals for possible grants to support solar and other clean energy projects in underserved parts of the country.
According to the MCC, only one-third of Benin’s 10 million population has access to power, falling to as little as 4.5% in rural areas. But demand for power is growing, having doubled in the past decade and forecast to double again in the next five, potentially leaving Benin reliant on importing power from neighbouring Ghana and Nigeria.
The MCC and Benin government are looking for proposals from companies and non-profit organisations around the world for projects that meet growing demand for power at various different levels.
Grants of US$100,000 to US$5 million are being offered for projects ranging from household generation and storage, including pay-as-you-go PV kits, community-level mini-grids, up to systems to support public infrastructure, such as pumping stations, hospitals or health clinics. Eligible systems for this latter category might include PV arrays with storage, MCC said.
Grants will be available to cover up to 65% of the capital cost of projects, with the project sponsor expected to cover the remainder.
The potential for solar in electrifying West Africa will be under the spotlight at Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa on 21-22 April 2015. Organised by PV Tech's publisher, Solar Media, the event will be held in the Ghanain capital, Accra, and feature a line-up of prominent industry and government figures. Further details are available here.