New SEFA grant to promote scale-up of the nascent green mini-grid market

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The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) has approved on June 9 a USD 1 million grant to launch the first phase of a Green Mini-Grids (GMG) Market Development Program (MDP) which will be implemented by the SE4ALL Africa Hub in coordination with SE4ALL’s Clean Energy Mini-Grid High Impact Opportunity stakeholder group. The program aims to remove or reduce market barriers at regional scale and strengthen the ecosystem for the emergence of a thriving GMG sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. The program will support the efforts of relevant stakeholders such as governments and project developers in creating a favourable environment for scaling up mini-grid investment on the continent and expanding energy access to underserved communities through GMGs.

Green mini-grids are village or district level electrical distribution networks that serve the needs of communities too distant to be economically connected to the grid in the near to medium term, but densely populated enough to offer economies of scale in power delivery compared with individual home systems. The International Energy Agency has estimated that 40% of investment required to achieve universal electricity access by 2030 can most economically be achieved through mini-grids.

The MDP is a multi-phased program which includes: generating market intelligence on the GMG opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa; promotion of linkages between relevant stakeholders; strengthening the capacity of developers to operationalize GMG business models; promoting a sound policy and regulatory environment; coordinating a regional approach to mini-grid quality assurance; and engaging project financiers while supporting the development of suitable financial solutions.

Speaking at the announcement, Alex Rugamba, African Development Bank Director of Energy, Environment and Climate Change, said, “Green mini-grids provide the most affordable solution to a specific market need that is underserved by grid connection and solar home systems, yet the GMG market is still in its infancy on the continent because the sector faces significant barriers to growth. SEFA’s Green Mini-Grid Market Development Program will help overcome those barriers to create the opportunity for scaled-up investment in this promising sector.”

In May, SEFA launched a call for proposals targeted at public-sector institutions to further support the creation of an enabling policy and market environment for GMGs at the country level.

-About SEFA:

SEFA is a USD 90 million multi-donor facility funded by the governments of Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States. It supports the sustainable energy agenda in Africa through: grants to facilitate the preparation of medium-scale renewable energy generation and energy efficiency projects; equity investments to bridge the financing gap for small- and medium-scale renewable energy generation projects; and support the public sector to improve the enabling environment for private investments in sustainable energy. SEFA is hosted by the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department of the AfDB.

About the SE4ALL Africa Hub:

The UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative was launched in September 2011 with the aim of achieving three main goals by 2030 (i) ensuring universal access to modern energy services; (ii) doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and (iii) doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The African Development Bank is at the forefront of the implementation of the SE4ALL Initiative and has hosted the SE4ALL Africa Hub since May 2013 in partnership with the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency and with the support of UNDP. The mission of the SE4ALL Africa Hub is to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the SE4ALL initiative on the African continent. The Hub promotes African ownership, inclusiveness and a comprehensive approach to the Initiative’s implementation. In addition, the Hub is supporting a number of African countries with developing their SE4ALL Action Agenda and Investment Prospectus.