Beyond the Grid

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Power Africa's Beyond the Grid partners like ZOLA Electric are lighting up Africa through more reliable, affordable, and su
Power Africa's Beyond the Grid partners like ZOLA Electric are lighting up Africa through more reliable, affordable, and sustainable electrical services.
Photo Credit: Matthieu Young
 

Powering sub-Saharan Africa's COVID-19 Response - Beyond the Grid

Through Power Africa and USAID, the United States Government is increasing access to electricity for health centers and communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Improved access to electricity strengthen's our partner countries' self-reliance and capacity to manage COVID-19.

 

Beyond the Grid Overview - January 2019

Two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. Although many of these people will be connected to the electricity grid in the future, some live in remote areas that will never be connected. Even those who will be connected may face a long wait as the infrastructure build-out tries to keep up with population growth. Power Africa recognized the need to support off-grid electricity access and in 2014 launched the Beyond the Grid sub-Initiative focused exclusively on unlocking investment and growth for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions on the African continent.

Beyond the Grid leverages Power Africa’s innovative transaction-focused model to galvanize collaboration, engage in critical actions to accelerate transactions, and drive systemic reforms to facilitate future investment specifically relating to off-grid and small-scale energy solutions. Beyond the Grid has partnered with over 40 investors and practitioners that have committed to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small-scale solutions to this market. These private sector commitments will be significant in helping Power Africa achieve its target of 60 million new connections for households and businesses. 

Beyond the Grid is accelerating off-grid electricity access, focusing on two strategic priorities – household solar and micro-grids – to add 25-30 million new connections by 2030, in support of achieving the overall Power Africa goal of adding 60 million new home and business connections.

  • Scaling up the household solar energy market by increasing access to financing and providing technical assistance. USAID’s Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development with founding partners the U.K. Department for International Development and the Shell Foundation, is the flagship activity advancing household solar.

  • Striving to identify scalable micro-grids that offer opportunities for powering rural communities and industry. Strategic partnerships with the Global Lighting & Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will further implementation of the Quality Assurance Framework for Mini-Grids

Off-grid Solar Market Assessments (2019)

These market assessments provide companies, investors, governments, and other key stakeholders a detailed understanding of off-grid solar energy markets in ten sub-Saharan African countries. The countries chosen for the market assessments are focus countries for the Power Africa Off-grid Project. In creating the market assessments, lead authors performed desk studies, incorporated technical expertise from lead advisors, conducted stakeholder interviews, and analyzed data from a variety of sources. The market assessments cover the following themes:

  • Characteristics of countries’ electricity sectors
  • Electrification targets and current electrification status
  • Government regulations
  • Donor-funded activities
  • Gender mainstreaming
  • Detailed market information relating to stand-alone solar home systems, mini-grids and productive uses of energy

Off-Grid Market Support

Beyond the Grid draws on Power Africa's toolkit of financial resources, including a network of over 130 partners, including 50 focused on Beyond the Grid, to source funding for off-grid power providers at all stages of development. For example, Beyond the Grid has partnered with lenders including Ceniarth on a $75 million loan guarantee for off-grid energy. At early-stage, catalytic grant funding is provided through a variety of mechanisms, including the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF). In 2016 alone, the USADF, USAID and General Electric funded more than 30 entrepreneurs working on home  and micro-grid energy projects in Africa. In March 2016, Sweden & Power Africa launched the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia utilizing up to €20 million between 2016-2018 to support rural energy providers with market-based approaches to expanding energy access, with the goal of providing access to 1 million people.

Scaling Off Grid Electric: A Grand Challenge for Development

Scaling Off-Grid Energy is a platform for leading donors and investors to develop Africa’s off-grid energy sector and coordinate investments to connect more households and businesses to electricity, fasterScaling Off-Grid Energy will incentivize technological innovation, fund early stage companies, and support critical elements of the off-grid ecosystem. 

The founding partners – the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.K. Department for International Development, and the Shell Foundation – aim to advance the goals and commitments made under the U.S. and U.K. flagship energy access initiatives, Power Africa and Energy Africa.

To learn more, visit: https://www.scalingoffgrid.org/

Smart Communities Coalition

Announced in January 2018, Power Africa and Mastercard co-chair the Smart Communities Coalition (SCC) which seeks to improve the delivery of essential services to refugees and host community members through enhanced coordination between public and private entities and strategic implementation of technology. SCC efforts will focus on three foundational pillars — connectivity, digital tools, and energy access — with the intent to launch pilots in Uganda and Kenya in 2018.

Through technology and process innovation, the Smart Communities Coalition seeks to improve outcomes for both refugees and host community members by:

  • Increasing efficiencies in camp management and service delivery
  • Empowering refugees to provide for themselves and their families
  • Equitably addressing the needs of host community members in and around targeted settlements.

The Global LEAP Award

The Gloabl LEAP Award is an international competition that identifies the world's best, most energy-efficient off-grid appliances. High-quality, energy-efficient appliances are essential to the growth of off-grid energy markets—they create demand for off-grid energy, and reduce costs. By providing the off-grid marketplace clear and actionable signals about the quality and energy performance of off-grid appliances, the Global LEAP Awards accelerate the off-grid market.All appliances named Winners or Finalists in the Global LEAP Awards have been tested in accredited laboratories for their energy performance, quality, and reliability, and have been evaluated by a panel of off-grid market experts. Winners and Finalists are identified through a combination of expert evaluation and energy- and cost-based quantitative assessments. 

To learn more, visit: https://globalleapawards.org 

Mobilizing Finance

Sustainable, private sector-led business models for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions are beginning to succeed in the marketplace — bolstered by decreasing costs of technology, innovative financing options, and a growing cohort of entrepreneurs meeting the demand of sub-Saharan Africa’s underserved populations. Building on this momentum, Beyond the Grid will utilize the full suite of tools and resources of the 12 U.S. Government agencies which work together as part of the Power Africa team to mobilize finance to small-scale energy projects.

Enabling Environment

Clear regulatory and legal environments are fundamental to the success of any industry; Beyond the Grid advises governments on best practices in the development of key policies to enable growth in the off-grid sector. This type of support has included partnering with the Kenya Ministry of Energy & Petroleum and Kenya Power to develop the legal and technical frameworks for connecting micro-grids to the central grid.These terms will fit into the ongoing World Bank’s Mini-grid Regulatory Framework study.

Power Africa Toolbox

Power Africa’s growing toolbox offers a number of technical resources to Beyond the Grid. Tools include early-stage transaction assistance, early-stage support for innovative business models, financial assistance, capacity building, as well as policy, and regulatory design and reform assistance. In addition, Power Africa drew on its collective expertise in the region to generate a list of 13 early-stage Project Preparation Facilities that currently operate in Sub-Saharan Africa's energy sector, including those relevant for off-grid energy access. Contact Power Africa Beyond the Grid to discuss further.

Empowering and Powering Women

Across much of Africa, women are the primary household energy managers. As such, women are valuable consumers and potentially powerful players in the modern energy economy. Beyond the Grid efforts are helping to meet the access needs of rural women while creating opportunities for their participation in a growing and innovative energy sector. Learn more.

Off-grid Solar Market Assessments (2019)

These market assessments provide companies, investors, governments, and other key stakeholders a detailed understanding of off-grid solar energy markets in ten sub-Saharan African countries. The countries chosen for the market assessments are focus countries for the Power Africa Off-grid Project. In creating the market assessments, lead authors performed desk studies, incorporated technical expertise from lead advisors, conducted stakeholder interviews, and analyzed data from a variety of sources. The market assessments cover the following themes:

  • Characteristics of countries’ electricity sectors
  • Electrification targets and current electrification status
  • Government regulations
  • Donor-funded activities
  • Gender mainstreaming
  • Detailed market information relating to stand-alone solar home systems, mini-grids and productive uses of energy

DOWNLOAD: Country-specific Off-grid Solar Market Assessments

Power Africa Off-Grid Fact Sheets

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Cameroon

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Cote d'Ivoire

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Democratic Republic of Congo

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Ethiopia

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Ghana

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Kenya

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Niger

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Rwanda

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Senegal

Power Africa Off-Grid Project Fact sheet - Tanzania

Last updated: January 15, 2021

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