World Bank to Provide $224 Million for Off-Grid Solar in West Africa and Sahel

The  World Bank has approved an International Development Association (IDA) fund of $150 million and another $74.7 million contingent recovery grant from the Clean Technology Fund to help increase off-grid electricity access for people in West Africa and Sahel regions.

The investment has been made available for the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP). The overall objective of ROGEP is to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and public institutions using modern standalone solar systems through a harmonized regional approach.

The project is expected to benefit about 1.7 million people currently living without electricity connection or with unreliable supply, as well as businesses and public institutions who will use modern standalone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities.

“So far, only 3% of households in West Africa and the Sahel are served by standalone solar home systems, and 208 million people in the sub-region do not have access to electricity. The project seeks to assist regional policy makers to address barriers to create a regional market for standalone 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 $224.7 million in funding will help the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS’ Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to expand off-grid solar access to electricity for populations in 19 countries in West Africa and the Sahel region, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Although standalone solar systems have a large market potential in West Africa and the Sahel, investments in off-grid renewable energy have lagged in the sub-region. The new project maximizes finance for development by crowding in private investments to deploy innovative technologies.  By developing a regional market, it will help better address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create jobs.

“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,” added Benmessaoud.

The new project is aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity and the Africa Climate Business Plan. Furthermore, it will implement a pilot to test business models to electrify schools and health clinics critical for the Human Capital Project in West Africa.

In May 2018, Mercom reported on the news of the World Bank approving a $180 million fund to support Kenya’s energy sector. The aim was to improve the financial health of Kenya’s Electricity Generation Company Limited (KenGen) and improve private sector financing Kenya’s energy sector.

In August 2017, the World Bank had approved IDA fund of $150 million for Kenya to help communities in Kenya gain access to modern energy services through off-grid solar systems.

According to a recently published report by Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), in the first half of 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for 83% of the global sales of off-grid solar PV lighting systems.

The report mentioned that East Africa and West Africa together represent 93% of total sales volumes in Sub-Saharan Africa. West Africa remained stable on the volumes reported in the previous reporting round, though big variations exist at the national level.

The World Bank funding will further help increase the penetration of off-grid solar kits to individuals and households in the region.

Image Credit: GOGLA

Saumy Prateek Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.