Africa Solar Industry Association

The board of the World Bank Group has approved a series of funding for the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) for selected countries in West Africa and the Sahel region.

The funds include $150 million in the form of credit and grant from the International Development Association and $74.7 million contingent recovery grant from the Clean Technology Fund in a bid to assist the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS’ Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency expand off-grid access to electricity for countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The overall objective of ROGEP is to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and public institutions using modern stand-alone solar systems through a harmonised regional approach.

The project is expected to benefit about 1.7 million people currently living without electricity connection or with unreliable supply, as well as businesses and public institutions who will use modern stand-alone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities.

“So far, only 3% of households in West Africa and the Sahel are served by stand-alone solar home systems, and 208 million people in the sub-region do not have access to electricity, noted Rachid Benmessaoud, coordinating director for regional integration in West Africa.

Reducing energy poverty

According to Benmessaoud, the project seeks to assist regional policy makers to address barriers to create a regional market for stand-alone solar systems, which is essential to reduce energy poverty in the region.

“The new project will help adopt regional standards and regulations to establish a regional market with harmonised policies that will attract larger market players for the benefit of all participating countries,” Benmessaoud added.

Although stand-alone solar systems have a large market potential in West Africa and the Sahel, investments in off-grid renewable energy have lagged behind in the sub-region, the World Bank noted.

The new project maximises finance for development by crowding in private investments to deploy innovative technologies.  

By developing a regional market, it will help better address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create jobs.