Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$7 million grant to support a new technical assistance initiative aimed at meeting the continent’s fast evolving renewable mini-grid industry.
Due to factors such as climate change, there have been growing calls for the continent to adopt renewable energy sources in order to protect the environment.
This has seen governments over the years promoting the development of renewable energy sources.
In a statement, AfDB said the Africa Mini-grid Market Acceleration Programme (AMAP), which aims to expand private mini-grid investment on the continent will include three core components.
The three components are; the implementation of a new and standardised framework for national scale mini-grid acceleration programme, design and de-risking solutions, and support for knowledge, innovation, and skills development activities including the continuation of the bank’s Green Mini-Grid Help Desk.
“The board of directors of the African Development Bank has approved a US$7 million grant from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (Sefa), for a new technical assistance initiative meeting the needs of the continent’s fast-evolving renewable mini-grid industry,” said the regional financier.
It noted that mini-grids were an integral and increasingly important feature of the energy access solution, not just in terms of providing lights to households, but also in ensuring under-served populations have access to productive uses of energy to power inclusive and green economic growth.
“AMAP underscores the AfDB’s commitment to strengthening Africa’s mini-grids industry, which we see as a key driver for accelerated energy access, climate resilience, and a green post Covid-19 recovery,” the bank’s vice-president for power, energy, climate and green growth, Dr Kevin Kariuki, was quoted as saying.
Over the years, the bank has established leadership in building the African mini-grid industry. In addition to the AMAP, the bank hosts a number of targeted initiatives, including the Green Mini-Grid Market Development Programme under the Sustainable Energy for All Africa Hub, the Nigeria National Electrification Project, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Green Mini-Grid Programme.
AMAP’s initial phase is expected to lead to 880 000 new electricity access connections providing modern energy access to over four million people; over 80MW of renewable energy-based generation; the creation of 7 200 full-time jobs, of which 1 800 are anticipated to be held by women; reductions of over 6,5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2eq) in lifetime greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the facilitation of an estimated US$650 million of public and private investments in mini-grids.
AMAP is strongly aligned to the ambitions of the bank’s new deal on energy for Africa as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA) chief executive officer Mr Aaron Leopold was also quoted saying:
“Mini-grids are a fundamental but under-supported element of Africa’s energy future.
To achieve SDG 7, the United Nation’s target for universal energy access, the sector must be radically scaled up, and to do this, a holistic and broad-spectrum support programme informed by industry needs is required to bring governments, investors, and of course the mini-grid sector the kind of support that can facilitate fast and efficient progress.
“For these reasons, AMDA is excited to see AfDB working to bring mini-grid investments in Africa to the next level,” said the bank. – @okazunga.