World Bank in off-grid solar funding for West Africa and Sahel region

World Bank in off-grid solar funding for West Africa and Sahel region
World Bank approved US$224.7 million for off-grid solar (World Bank)

USA - The Board of the World Bank Group recently approved a total of US$224.7 million to help fund the expansion of off-grid access to electricity for populations in 19 countries in West Africa and the Sahel region.

The money is set to fund the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP), and includes $150 million in the form of credit and grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and $74.7 million contingent recovery grant from the Clean Technology Fund.

The funds are to be channelled to projects being undertaken by the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS’ Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

ROGEP is expected to benefit about 1.7 million people in West Africa and the Sahel currently living without electricity connection or with unreliable supply.

The project, which will use modern stand-alone solar systems, aims to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and public institutions in West Africa and the Sahel including in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

“So far, only 3% of households in West Africa and the Sahel are served by stand-alone solar home systems, and 208 million people in the sub-region do not have access to electricity. The project seeks to assist regional policymakers to address barriers to create a regional market for stand-alone 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 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.”

Stand-alone solar systems have a large market potential in West Africa and the Sahel. However, the region has not been seeing corresponding investments in off-grid renewable energy.

ROGEP which is in line with the World Bank Group’s objectives of poverty reduction and shared prosperity and the Africa Climate Business Plan is also expected to capitalise on finance for development by crowding in private investments to deploy innovative technologies.  The project will also help better address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and create jobs by developing a regional market for off-grid solar and for electricity.