World Bank boosts funding to promote solar products in Western and Central Africa

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THE World Bank has approved a total of $22.5 million in additional financing to the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) –in the form of grants from the International Development Association (IDA) and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF)— to support the development of the market for stand-alone solar products in Western and Central Africa, including a dedicated effort for the Sahel countries.

This complements the $150 million of IDA and $67.2 million CTF approved by the Board in April 2019 for this project.

The project will support activities to accelerate the deployment of stand-alone solar products, in a sub-region where 50 percent of the population does not have access to electricity, and where less than 3 percent of the population uses such innovative technologies. It seeks to harmonize policies and standards as well as business procedures to develop a regional market of stand-alone solar products, support entrepreneurs in business acceleration activities, and provide credits and grants for the deployment of stand-alone solar home systems.

The project is expected  to contribute to human capital development by electrifying public health centres and schools which are needed to improve health and education outcomes.  It will support job creation, for instance in the farming communities which can use solar water pumps for irrigation, solar milling equipment for product transformation, and solar refrigerators to bring products to market.

The Bank adds that the project will also support the small and innovative business enterprises through solar home systems and will make an impact in economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Project’s geographic scope covers 19 countries in Western and Central Africa, 15 of which are members of ECOWAS (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo), as well as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Mauritania.

‘Stand-alone solar systems have a large market potential in Western and Central Africa including in the Sahel, but investments in off-grid solutions have lagged behind in the sub-region,’ said Deborah Wetzel, World Bank Director of Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

‘The new financing will help address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create jobs for the millions of people currently living without an electricity connection or with unreliable supply, as well as for businesses and public institutions who will use modern stand-alone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities,’ she added.

Through this additional funding and restructuring, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been appointed as a new implementing agency of the project, which will work on developing a regional market, and supporting activities for entrepreneurs. ECOWAS will coordinate the project activities with the West African Development Bank (BOAD), the other implementing agency of the project, which will support the provision of a line of credit with commercial banks operating in the sub-region.

 

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