Today, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a Global Development Alliance, one of the largest in USAID history, the Health Electrification and Telecommunication Alliance (HETA). It is a five-year cooperative agreement that will invest USAID resources to leverage more than $150 million of additional private sector resources to install reliable, renewable power and provide mobile network and Internet access for at least 10,000 health facilities across sub-Saharan Africa. The announcement follows USAID Power Africa’s call for new business approaches based on the latest clean energy technology.
More than 100,000 public health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to reliable electricity and almost all of them lack access to an internet connection. Millions of people seeking care and treatment are at risk because they cannot depend on refrigeration for medical commodities like vaccines, the presence of lights for births or emergency surgeries at night, or the digital connectivity for communications and records management that modern medicine relies on. In short, insufficient power denies access to life-saving care.
U.S. company Abt is serving as lead integrator for HETA with partners RESOLVE, and founding private sector alliance partners bechtel.org (Bechtel’s social enterprise), Orange, and 25 other companies, organizations, and foundations in the healthcare, energy, and telecommunications sectors.
Through this Alliance, and with dedicated design and operational support from USAID’s global health program, African government partners, and alliance members – health facilities will be outfitted to provide renewable energy and digital connectivity to improve healthcare service delivery and support U.S. commitments made at the United Nations General Assembly and last year’s United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26).
The systems will include solar, battery, and other innovative energy technology to provide reliable energy to the mobile networks and health facilities. The HETA model will generate surplus energy allowing nearby businesses and homes to purchase the excess electricity.
The sale of this extra power to the surrounding community will generate income to maintain the system and provide financial sustainability to establish the initiative as a formal program outside of USAID. Providing electricity access also creates hubs for local development, giving people access to the power and connectivity they need to start or grow businesses, stimulate incomes, and create new communities of connection. This will also help accelerate improvements in delivery of primary health care services, supporting advance of USAID global health program goals, aligned to primary health care focus countries announced this week.
HETA’s long-term vision looks beyond 10,000 facilities. Part of HETA’s mission is to design an alliance with a large number of partners that can continue beyond USAID funding support. USAID and its HETA alliance partners are already looking to build the funding base and governance structures to create this independent organization.