World Bank unveils plans for electricity supply to Sub-Saharan Africa
The World Bank Group on Tuesday announced an innovative initiative to accelerate the pace of electrification in Africa to achieve universal access by 2030.
This is contained in a statement on the World Bank’s website on Wednesday.
The statement said the World Bank, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and other development agencies would promote private investment in Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) systems to electrify targeted areas quickly and efficiently.
“The Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-Up Platform (DARES) calls for joint action by government, private investors, and development agencies to solve Africa’s immediate needs while developing DRE solutions that can be applied globally.
“At current rates of electrification, over half a billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will still be without electricity in 2030 unless the current electrification pace is tripled.
“Present projections indicate that only eight SSA countries will achieve universal electricity access by 2030, and some will take over 100 years to fully electrify.”
The statement said the lack of energy access greatly inhibits green, resilient, and inclusive development of many countries in SSA.
It said the expansion of access through DRE systems would answer an urgent need quickly and support climate resilience, food security, and human capital development goals.
The statement said DRE was the fastest and most cost-effective mechanism to accelerate clean electricity access on the continent.
It said over the last 10 years, 20 per cent of all new electric connections in SSA have been through DRE systems.
According to the statement, DRE systems generally involve a solar photo-voltaic station paired with battery storage.
” In rural communities, these systems can serve a health care facility, for example, or a group of customers such as households or businesses in a village, operating independently from the national power grid.
“DRE systems can be easily installed, are reliable, and do not require the large investment needed to build a utility-scale power plant.”
The statement said DRE was attracting private-sector financing, however, the support was not at the scale that was needed.
It said DARES will leverage this positive momentum to work with governments and the private sector to expand DRE investment.
According to the statement, the World Bank Group is well-positioned to take the lead in scaling the DRE sector in SSA, using a different approach from traditional infrastructure investments to incentivise private financing commitment.
The statement quoted Riccardo Puliti, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, saying “now more than ever we need innovative solutions that close the energy access gap.
“Bringing together governments and the private sector to support distributed renewable energy can help extend electrification to the most vulnerable while also advancing clean energy,” he said.
The statement quoted Hiroshi Matano, MIGA Executive Vice-President, saying “MIGA is in a strong position to support private investment.
“We would do this through new and innovative risk mitigation solutions that are fit-for-purpose for the unique risk faced by investors.
“We look forward to working with SSA countries to create opportunities to combine public and private investment approaches to electrify Africa in the near future,” he said.
The statement also quoted Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, IFC Vice-President of Cross-Cutting Solutions, saying “investing in distributed renewable energy is one of the most efficient ways to tackle energy access challenges.
“It will also support economic activities in Africa while addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Mini-grid systems are one example of DRE and can efficiently deliver energy to cities and rural areas outside the limits of a national grid,” he said.
The statement said DARES responded to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for “affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” by 2030.
” The impact of this initiative goes beyond electrifying Africa. Electricity is the foundational enabler to address other critical initiatives such as food insecurity, gender equality, climate resilience, and health.
” Electrification will open more options to solve these issues. “
It said DARES would have five core areas which include mini-grids, off-grid solar markets, and systems for schools and health facilities.
Other areas include solar irrigation and cold chain for farmers, and innovative business models to displace diesel generation and improve access reliability.
The statement said the World Bank had an active portfolio of 2.7 billion dollars for DRE access, targeting the electrification of about 40 million people.
It said IFC had initiated the Scaling Mini Grids Programme and was building on its Lighting Africa Engagement, while MIGA had 83 million dollars in DRE guarantees and a 400 million dollar pipeline.
“MIGA is developing “fit-for-purpose” instruments that address the unique risks faced by distributed energy investors and is actively engaging with partners to bring together complementary solutions for its DRE clients.”