off-grid solar
Off-grid solar. Source: GOGLA

The World Bank will add $22,5million in additional financing to the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Project to support the development of the stand-alone solar product market in West and Central Africa, with a dedicated effort to include countries from the Sahel region.

The additional financing to the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) is in the form of grants from the International Development Association (IDA) and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).

This funding 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% of the population does not have access to electricity, and where less than 3% of the population uses such innovative technologies.

It seeks to harmonise 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.

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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.

Huge potential for stand-alone solar product market in West and Central Africa

ROGEAP will support small and innovative business enterprises through solar home systems and 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.

Deborah Wetzel, World Bank director of regional integration for sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa, said: “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.

“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”.

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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, 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.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.