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Rwanda Green Fund
Finance and Policy  
2 August 2016

Grand Challenge invests $36m off-grid

Power Africa and USAID's Global Development Lab have launched the Grand Challenge aimed at empowering entrepreneurs and investors to grow the off-grid market in Africa.

According to SciDev.Net, for this Grand Challenge project, Power Africa and its US associate will be working with the UK's Department for International Development and Shell Foundation to implement it.

The programme named Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development is expected to invest $36 million that will enable entrepreneurs and investors to provide 20 million households in Sub-Saharan Africa with off-grid energy by 2030.

Chris Jurgens, director of the Centre for Transformational Partnerships at USAID and the Scaling Off-Grid Energy initiative, commented: “Most countries are unlikely to connect their entire populations to grid electricity for years, if not decades. As a result, many households rely on expensive, polluting, and unsafe kerosene and diesel for their energy needs.”

Power Africa expanding its scopes

It is reported that the scheme not only seeks to provide clean and affordable electricity, but is also aimed at building a vibrant market across Sub-Saharan Africa by supporting growth of innovative entrepreneurs to make off-grid energy solutions affordable and profitable business ventures.

In addition, the Grand Challenge is envisioned to catalyse private investments for the entrepreneurs to spread to new markets.

Jurgens noted the dynamics of the market and the advantages of renewable energy solutions, stating that: "The cost of solar technologies is rapidly falling, while the cost of alternatives such as kerosene is rising, making the economics more attractive."

Grand Challenge to benefit agriculture

SciDev.Net reported that through the Grand Challenge, entrepreneurs will be assisted with technical support, financial access, drive customer demand, strengthen the marketplace for off-grid solutions and address market barriers.

Jurgens added: “Energy access affects us all, but women disproportionately face the greatest energy challenges, and it affects education and economic opportunities.”

Shashank Verma, head of advisory services at the UK-based Global Village Energy Partnership also commented on the initiative.

Verma said: “It is incentivising productive power applications like solar refrigeration, which has huge potential to add value to agri-value chains and create additional income for low-income communities.”

The initiative was announced by USAID administrator Gayle Smith at the US Global Entrepreneurship Summit in June.

 

Featured image: shutterstock

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