The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said a $7 million grant to help the continent's renewables mini grid sector could power up to 80 MW of new generation capacity and attract $650 million of private sector investment.
The lender has devoted the money, from its overseas-funded Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), to easing the roll-out of off-grid renewable electricity networks across the continent.
The money from the SEFA funding stream – established by Denmark in 2011 and bolstered by public money from Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden the U.S. and the U.K. since – will be devoted to financing standardized mini-grid framework programs for four, unspecified nations; de-risking mini-grid finance; and sharing knowledge, innovation and skills training, according to a press release issued by the AfDB on December 22.
The development lender said the grant would be named the Africa Mini-grid Market Acceleration Programme and would be expected, in its initial phase, to provide 880,000 new electricity access points for 4 million people and to create 7,200 jobs, of which 1,800 would be for women.
Aaron Leopold, CEO of the Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA), said: “Mini-grids are a fundamental but under-supported element of Africa’s energy future. To achieve SDG [sustainable development goal] 7 – the UN’s target for universal energy access – the sector must be radically scaled up and to do this, a holistic and broad-spectrum support program informed by industry needs is required, to bring governments, investors, and of course the mini-grid sector the kind of support that can facilitate fast and efficient progress. For these reasons, AMDA is excited to see AfDB working to bring mini-grid investments in Africa to the next level.”
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