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The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) has called for proposals to support the creation of an enabling policy and market environment for green mini-grids (GMGs) in an effort to address barriers to growth and unlock private investment in the sector.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, unreliable electricity is estimated to cost countries between one and two percent of annual GDP, and this adversely affects over 620 million people. GMGs – isolated electricity distribution networks powered either fully or partially by renewable energy – typically offer a lower-cost solution than grid extension for communities too distant from the grid to be economically connected in the near future, but densely populated enough to offer economies of scale in power delivery compared to individual home systems. GMGs are therefore increasingly recognised as an essential part of a comprehensive strategy to achieve universal energy access.
With this in mind, SEFA is providing US $5 million to support enabling environment interventions in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Selected projects will address sector planning, regulatory and policy interventions, as well as market development work at the country level, and are expected to address the constraints faced by governments, financiers, developers and communities.
Mainly targeted at public sector institutions, the proposals will identify countries eligible for financial support and determine project design and implementation. Proposals will be evaluated based upon criteria such as recipient’s ownership, commitment and alignment with the country’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Action Agenda, existing sector policy, institutional capacity and market potential, and relevance and specificity of required technical support.
The announcement was made at the second SE4All Forum in New York during a dedicated event on clean energy mini-grids. At the event, SEFA Coordinator Joao Duarte Cunha said, “Today’s launch marks an important step for SEFA as we seek to raise the profile of GMGs and integrate them into our wider agenda of unlocking private investments in clean energy projects with high socio-economic impact.”
SEFA works closely with the AfDB-housed SE4All Africa Hub, which is coordinating the call for proposals. Before year-end, the hub also expects to launch a GMG Market Development Programme aimed at reducing regional-level market barriers and strengthening the necessary ecosystem for a thriving GMG sector.
Interested applicants are requested to submit an expression of interest to the SE4All Africa Hub at the following email address SE4All.Africa@afdb.org before July 1, 2015. Detailed information can be found on the SEFA homepage or in the attached document.
SEFA is a US$ 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.