African Development Bank opens $50-60m pot for off-grid solar Covid recovery


Multilateral development lender the African Development Bank (AfDB) has committed US$20 million to a US$50-60 million Covid recovery fund for companies which distribute solar home systems and clean cooking stoves and set up green mini-grids and other off-grid renewables systems across the continent.

The directors of the AfDB last week agreed to allocate US$20 million from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa set up by the Danish government in 2011 – and since backed by public money from Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. – to its new, Covid-19 Off-grid Recovery Platform.

Three co-funders of the initiative, selected by competitive means according to an AfDB press release issued on Friday, will supply a further US$30-40 million to the program.

London-based investment bank Lion's Head Global Partners and New York venture capital business Social Investment Managers and Advisors will be partners, along with Dutch impact investor Triple Jump, which said money from a separate fund established by the Shell Foundation and Dutch development bank FMO would also contribute to the Covid recovery plan.

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“We are pleased to be selected to co-manage the Covid-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform, which will be blended with funding from the Energy Entrepreneurs Growth Fund,” said Triple Jump's head of sustainable energy, Jan-Henrik Kuhlmann, in Friday's statement.

The finance, including the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa contribution, will be used to offer loans to off-grid companies at concessional rates of interest, the AfDB said, adding the move had been endorsed by organizations including the Brussels-based Alliance for Rural Electrification, Nairobi-headquartered Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association, and Dutch non-profit Gogla, formerly known as the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association.

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