World Bank grant eyes solar for 1.4 million people in war-torn Yemen

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Solar power has proved to be the most immediate solution for severe energy shortages in Yemen. Credit: Flickr: Julien Harneis

The World Bank will provide a US$50 million grant for off-grid solar systems in Yemen to improve access to electricity and vital basic services in rural and outlying urban areas.

Part of the funding will go towards the commercial solar market, which has grown despite the military conflict in Yemen. The power should help to provide further support to the local economy and create jobs, said a World Bank release. The grant for the 'Yemen Emergency Electricity Access Project' is funded by the International Development Association (IDA), whose parent company is the World Bank.

The bank claimed that solar power has proved to be the most immediate solution for severe energy shortages in Yemen, however, costs have put the technology beyond the reach of public facilities and the most vulnerable populations, so the private sector has been the main driver.

The project will work with the current solar supply chain and the existing network of microfinance institutions, to finance and deliver off-grid solar systems to rural and peri-urban areas. The aim is to restore or improve access to electricity to 1.4 million people. The project will also fund solar power for critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, water corporations, and rural electricity providers.

“The lack of electricity in Yemen has had a devastating impact on Yemenis and the provision of services,” said Dr. Asad Alam, World Bank Group Country Director for Yemen, Egypt, and Djibouti. “While responding to immediate need, the project will contribute to building a more inclusive and sustainable solar market in Yemen through targeted financing to the private sector which will expand its reach to the poor and vulnerable.”

The project will be implemented in partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and in collaboration with the local private sector, including Micro Finance Institutions, solar equipment suppliers and technicians. Working with the Yemeni private sector will help create hundreds of jobs. 

“Investing in solar will make Yemen’s electricity more resilient, reduce the dependence on fuels for critical service facilities, and create jobs in the private sector,” said Joern Torsten Huenteler, World Bank Energy Specialist and Task Team Leader of the project. “What Yemenis need today more than ever is a quick and innovative energy solutions to help ease the crisis.”

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