micro-grid technology
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The African Development Bank's board has approved a $20 million facility to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to support renewable-based, mini-grid solutions to the off-grid cities of Isiro, Bumba and Genema.

According to the development bank, the green mini-grid programme will serve as the pilot to an innovative private-led electrification approach to deploy renewable-based mini-grid solutions in the central African nation.

Upon completion, the envisioned mini-grids that range from 3 to 10MW will directly connect 21,200 households and 2,100 SMEs, and public buildings, benefitting at least 150,000 people.

With limited grid coverage - around 10% nationally - many Congolese rely on kerosene or diesel fuel for their lamps, cookers and electricity generators.

Less than 1% of rural and 35% of urban areas have access to electricity from the national grid.

Amadou Hott, the Bank’s Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth said the Bank’s financial support to the DRC's off-grid electricity programme would transform the country’s energy sector and deliver high development impact.

He observed that while helping to eradicate the use of diesel fuel in the target communities, the programme will also foster the country’s transition to low-carbon growth.

Hott said: “The innovative scheme under this programme is also expected to demonstrate viability for private sector led mini-grid financing, which will open up a market for mini-grid investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We hope to replicate the same model once this pilot demonstrates success.”

Blended financing

The bank’s financing will complement the UK’s Department for International Development-backed Essor - Access to Electricity (A2E) initiative, which is a technical assistance programme that supports the Government-led mini-grid auction and project preparation.

The DFID support seeks to promote the proliferation of private-led green mini-grid projects in the DRC.

The bank will provide a blend of private and concessional resources notably from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other development partners to the sponsors/consortia that will be selected in the auction process.

The board of the GCF approved $21 million for the programme during its 21st Board Meeting in October 2018.

The bank is also providing a $1 million Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) grant to provide advisory services to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the procurement of solar PV mini-grid systems.

The advisory services also encompass mini-grid regulatory framework development, project feasibility studies, extensive policy and regulatory level engagement.