The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has awarded a grant to Renewable Energy Innovators Cameroon (REIc) and SimpliPhi Power. The two companies will use the funding to carry out feasibility studies for a project to electrify 100,000 rural households via solar mini-grids.
The grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is for feasibility studies for a rural electrification project by Renewable Energy Innovators Cameroon (REIc) and SimpliPhi Power. The two companies, Cameroonian and American respectively, want to provide access to electricity to 100,000 rural households via solar mini-grids. The USTDA grant of over $932,000 will support the reliability study phase of the project.
As part of the USTDA grant, SimpliPhi Power will conduct the technical, regulatory, financial and legal analyses necessary to develop up to 134 solar-powered mini-grids. The California-based company will conduct the feasibility studies in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a US Department of Energy laboratory. SimpliPhi Power will also work with Virginia-based Morua Power. The studies will also cover the design and monitoring of a mini-grid pilot project.
Green light from the Cameroonian government
“After several years of extensive research and piloting of mini-grids in Cameroon, USTDA’s support comes at an ideal time, as it will mature our plans to provide access to electricity to more than 760 off-grid villages in Cameroon in the coming years. Through the partnership with USTDA, REIc is better positioned to achieve its mission of making clean, affordable electricity available as a tool to accelerate sustainable development,” says Jude Numfor, REIc’s Executive Director.
The USTDA is providing this grant funding as part of the Power Africa initiative launched by former US President Barack Obama to accelerate the electrification of the African continent. Power Africa has also been involved in negotiations with Cameroon’s Ministry of Water and Energy and the Electricity Regulatory Agency (Arsel) to streamline licensing procedures and increase private sector participation in the burgeoning mini-grid sector.
“Our collaborative efforts are helping to improve the enabling environment for private investment, opening up new opportunities for qualified mini-grid developers and equipment suppliers, including US manufacturers,” says Mark Carrato, the coordinator of Power Africa. According to the World Bank, 89% of rural households still do not have access to electricity in Cameroon.
Jean Marie Takouleu