World Bank and Myanmar Sign Pact to Provide Off-Grid Solar Products in Rural Areas

The World Bank has signed an agreement with the Government of Myanmar to provide off-grid solar products to 450,000 people in rural Myanmar.

The result-based financing for off-grid solar products is worth $3.45 million. It is co-funded by the Global Partnership for Results-Based Approaches (GPRBA) and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).

The results-based financing (RBF) pilot program aims to demonstrate a new business model led by the private sector for off-grid solar development. It is in line with the World Bank-funded National Electrification Program, which has provided electricity to more than two million people in Myanmar. The program has provided electricity access to consumers through the grid, private sector-led mini-grid development, and off-grid solutions.

This pilot project will help develop a commercial market for Lighting Global-certified solar products and support the sustainable growth of the off-grid lighting market in rural, remote areas of Myanmar.

The project will be implemented by the Department of Rural Development in Myanmar, which will provide the necessary monetary help to private players to develop supply chains for solar products. The project will aim at providing sustainable growth of off-grid lighting in the rural areas of Myanmar.

According to the World Bank, half of the population of Myanmar has no access to grid electricity, and nearly two-thirds of households in the rural areas are dependent on candles, kerosene, and diesel generators to take care of their energy requirements.

Commenting on this latest development, Mariam Sherman, the World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao PDR, said, “Energy access through off-grid solar technologies can play a key role in improving livelihoods and living conditions of people in rural areas. The new grant will not only help deliver economic and social benefits for rural families, but it will also contribute to social inclusion by providing affordable, quality solar products and by creating jobs through the expansion of supply chains in rural and remote areas.”

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financial arm of the World Bank, provided full support for the development of the first commercial market for off-grid solar services in Myanmar under the ‘Lighting Myanmar’ program. This has led to a spike in the sale and financing of nearly 90,000 verified solar products. This latest grant from the World Bank is aimed at developing the supply chain from companies to retailers and then on to the consumers.

The consumers under this program will have access to post-sale services and will be helped by the pay-as-you-go mechanism being developed by Myanmar.

Earlier, Singapore-based startup SolarHome, a pay-as-you-go solar solutions provider for off-grid households in Myanmar, had secured another $1 million equity from its existing investor Trirec.

Myanmar aims to achieve universal energy access goal by 2030 as part of the ‘National Electrification Plan.’

Recently, Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) invited bids for the implementation of 1.06 GW of ground-mounted solar power projects from independent power producers on a build-operate-own basis.