WEST AFRICA: World Bank releases $200 million for off-grid energy

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WEST AFRICA: World Bank releases $200 million for off-grid energy©KRISS75/Shutterstock

Nineteen countries in West Africa and the Sahel have recently received funding from the World Bank for an off-grid energy development project in the sub-region. The amount is estimated at slightly more than $200 million.

The World Bank has decided to release more than $200 million, or a little over €179 million, to expand access to off-grid electricity in West Africa. The decision was approved on April 17, 2019 by the World Bank’s Board of Directors. The deliberation is part of the project to implement the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP). The latter is financed to the tune of $150 million by credits and grants from the International Development Association (IDA, a World Bank institution that provides interest-free or low-interest loans to poor countries). Nearly $75 million will be provided in the form of a grant from the Clean Technology Fund. The World Bank’s action therefore makes it possible to support the West African Development Bank and the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the electrification process in the sub-region.

A total of 19 countries should benefit from this financing, the main objective of which is to improve access to electricity. The project will be implemented in the following countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Senegal, Senegal and Benin.

Rachid Benmessaoud, Director of Regional Integration Coordination in West Africa, explains that the project will “help decision makers in the region to create a regional market for autonomous solar systems that is vital to poverty alleviation. It will also enable entrepreneurs to seize opportunities related to this new market by developing progressive business solutions.”

Only 3% of households in West Africa and the Sahel are connected to an autonomous solar home system. In the same region, 208 million people are deprived of electricity. According to World Bank estimates, the financing it has just provided should provide electricity to about 1.7 million people.

West Africa is a sunny region, but it is still struggling to attract investment in the solar energy sector. The implementation of this project could make the off-grid solar energy market in this part of the African continent more attractive.

Luchelle Feukeng

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