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The World Bank has approved US$224.7 million in financing to help expand off-grid energy access programmes using solar in West Africa and the Sahel regions.

This includes US$150 million in the form of credit and grants from the International Development Association (IDA) and a US$74.7 million contingent recovery grant from the Clean Technology Fund to help the schemes run by the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS’ Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

The financing for the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) focuses on 19 countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. ROGEP targets households, businesses, and public institutions to install stand-alone solar systems and hopes to reach 1.7 million people.

“So far, only 3% of households in West Africa and the Sahel are served by stand-alone solar home systems, and 208 million people in the sub-region do not have access to electricity. The project seeks to assist regional policymakers to address barriers to create a regional market for stand-alone solar systems, which is essential to reduce energy poverty in the region, and entrepreneurs to take opportunities in this market through development of scalable business solutions,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, coordinating director for Regional Integration in West Africa. “The new project will help adopt regional standards and regulations to establish a regional market with harmonized policies that will attract larger market players for the benefit of all participating countries.”

GCF supports Mali's solar mini-grids

The Green Climate Fund is also to provide €46.2 million in funding for solar-based mini-grids for rural electrification in Mali where 80% of the population in the rural areas do not have access to electricity, with most power coming from diesel generators. 

This includes €33.64 million in high concessional sovereign loans and a €2 million grant for technical assistance. The GCF funding will also mobilise €10.6 million from the West African Development Bank (BOAD). 

The project will start by reaching 28,300 households across 50 locations. The systems will be delivered via a public-private partnership model. The government will own the systems but competitive public tenders will be used to select EPC companies. 

"The Mali solar electrification project will build the capacity of rural electrification players while supporting access to financial services for productive users,” said Christian Adovelande, president of BOAD. “The Bank seeks to align itself with the Paris Agreement aiming to set aside more than €200 million for the promotion of private sector investments in solar energy."

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has also been focusing on the Sahel region with a 10GW solar target by 2020 across both large-scale and off-grid PV.

Tags: mali, sahel, gcf, world bank, mini-grids, ecowas, moad, africa