The African Development Bank Board has approved US$20 million in loans to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to support renewable energy mini-grids of 3-10MW capacity at three cities that are currently off-grid.

The national grid covers just 10% of the African country, so the DR Congo Green Mini-Grid Program, serving the cities of Isiro, Bumba and Genema, will act as a key pilot ahead of private-led electrification using mini-grid technology across the country. This includes in cities with several hundred thousand residents without modern power. Many Congolese use kerosene or diesel for lighting, cookers and electricity generators, with less than 1% of rural and 35% of urban areas having access to electricity from the national grid. Under the new programme, however, the new mini-grids are expected to directly power 21,200 households and 2,100 SMEs and public buildings, benefitting at least 150,000 people.

AfDB’s financing complements the UK’s Department for International Development-backed Essor - Access to Electricity (A2E) initiative, which is a technical assistance program that supports mini-grid auction and project preparation in the DRC. 

The Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) also approved US$21 million for the programme in October 2018.

AfDB is also providing a US$1 million Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) grant to provide advisory services to the DRC government for the procurement of solar PV mini-grid systems.

Amadou Hott, the AfDB's VP for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth said: “The innovative scheme under this programme is expected to demonstrate viability for private sector-led mini-grid financing which will open up a market for mini-grid investment in sub-Saharan Africa. We hope to replicate the same model once this pilot demonstrates success."

India’s Export-Import Bank (Exim) recently signed off on US$83.11 million worth of credit lines for the DRC government to build three PV plants, representing 35MW in aggregate capacity.

Tags: drc, congo, afdb, mini-grids, sub-saharan, debt financing

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