Power Africa has announced the disbursement of $2.6million in grants to solar companies to provide off-grid electricity to 288 healthcare facilities across sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the World Bank Report Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Uptake, Reliability and Complementary Factors for Economic impact, almost 60% of healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. Of those that do, only 34% of hospitals and 28% of health clinics have reliable, 24-hour access.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has so painfully highlighted, efficient health services and responses to diseases depend heavily on access to reliable electricity. Energy is critical to power essential devices, medical and sterilisation equipment, diagnostic equipment, cold storage for vaccines and medication, information technology and at its most basic, lights to enable delivery of continuous health care services.
Power Africa acting coordinator Mark Carrato says solar energy holds great potential to expand and improve healthcare delivery in sub-Saharan Africa. “Off-grid solar technology offers a clean, affordable and smart solution to electrify healthcare facilities located beyond the reach of national electricity grids.”
“Power Africa’s experience shows that off-grid solar energy systems can be rapidly deployed to even the most rural facilities,” explained Carrato.
Lead for Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative David Stonehill said USAID through the grants is investing in a set of pilot projects that demonstrates how healthcare electrification can be delivered in a commercially sustainable manner, with strong private sector involvement. “These grants demonstrate the Power Africa model in action. We use a modest amount of public funding to de-risk the transaction, thus opening the door for private investment,” said Stonehill.
Deployment details of off-grid solar projects for healthcare facilities
· Havenhill Synergy: electrify 21 rural healthcare facilities in peri-urban communities with limited electricity access in Oyo State, Nigeria. Using a energy-as-a-service business model they will provide long-term operation and maintenance of the solar energy systems.
· KYA-Energy Group: electrify 20 healthcare centres in Togo. They will also provide automated solar handwashing stations for infection prevention and solar phone charging stations to generate additional income.
· Muhanya Solar Ltd: partner with the Churches Health Association of Zambia to provide electricity access to 7 rural healthcare facilities. They will also electrify staff housing to generate revenue to operate and maintain the systems.
· Nanoé: electrify 35 rural healthcare facilities in Madagascar’s Ambanja and Ambilobe districts. Their nano-grids will be anchored around the facilities and connected to staff housing. Nanoé will also sell electricity to the surrounding communities to generate income to operate and maintain the nano-grids.
· OffGridBox: provide renewable energy and clean water to 6 rural clinics in Rwanda. Using a pay-as-you-go model they will also provide electricity and clean water to the surround communities.
· OnePower: electrify 7 rural health facilities in Lesotho. The facilities will serve as anchor loads for mini-grids which can then also provide electricity access to rural communities serviced by the facilities.
· PEG Solar: provide energy access to 91 rural community healthcare facilities in Ghana. PEG Solar will adopt a private sector approach, which should enable rapid electrification while reducing the upfront financial burden of transitioning to solar energy.
· SolarWorks!: electrify 92 rural healthcare facilities in Sofala province, Mozambique. They will cover operational and maintenance costs of the solar energy system for five years.
· Zuwa Energy: install solar energy solutions in 9 healthcare facilities in Malawi. They will also electrify staff housing, in hopes of increasing staff wellbeing and retention rates.
The World Bank, in its report on electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa, Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Uptake, Reliability and Complementary Factors for Economic impact , flips the script by foregrounding the idea that access to reliable electricity is even more important for African economies than the digital revolution.