Private sector driven projects to improve off-grid power in Africa have been undertaken across countries ranging from Egypt, to Nigeria, and Cameroon to Kenya.
Among these is an energy and microfinance project. Sponsored by the Participatory Microfinance Group for Africa (PAMIGA) in collaboration with Schneider Electric and the MIFED in Cameroon, this project consists of offering micro-credit solutions in rural and urban areas to finance the purchase of solar solutions. Such schemes can boost the economic development of individual tradesmen and small businesses. Schneider Electric provides solutions which meet the needs identified by microfinance institutions (MFIs) and uses its local partners (distributors, integrators, installers) to assure the customers of these MFIs of the availability of these affordable solutions, combined with a quality service. The customers of these MFIs are offered two types of credit; light credits which offer low-energy solar lighting systems; and energy credits, designed to provide solar solutions suitable for the needs of an income-generating activity. This project has also been initiated in Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Another initiative is a decentralised rural electrification project at Abu Monkar in Egypt. This Schneider Electric project paved the way for development of the first solar power plant built in the Egyptian province of New Valley. The solar power plant at Abu Monkar, built more than 120 km from the nearest grid, delivers 108 kWh/day, enough to meet all the village’s basic needs (school, mosque, homes, etc.). Schneider Electric also trains the residents of Abu Monkar to ensure optimal operation and maintenance of the power plant.
There is a pay-as-you-go solar energy project in Nigeria, developed by TXTlite Nigeria which provides equity injection or debt financing to local companies, to help them reach viability. Txtlite’s generation assets consist of home power stations and centralised management, control and billing infrastructure. Txtlite’s Power Box includes solar panels and a battery with built-in security chip against tampering and theft. It is a small portable kit for self-installation, which is available through the existing cellular sales channels. It provides electricity to off-grid population at the same price as kerosene cost. Regarding the second asset, Txtlite integrates to the mobile network operator billing systems and can easily integrate to mobile money, unstructured supplementary service data or premium SMS.
The BrightBox project in Kenya sees One Degree Solar (ODS) design and manufacture micro-solar products for low-income households and small businesses across Africa. BrightBox is a micro-solar home system that powers up to four light bulbs and radios, phones, and virtually any USB-charged device. It addresses a critical need for reliable, cleaner, and cost-effective lighting and energy in low-income communities.
In Cameroon, Schneider Electric implemented electrification of Pitti-Gare village using Villasol, its solar-powered micro off-grid facility for decentralised rural electrification. This standardised solution consists of photovoltaic panels, a battery bank and a battery charging station that enable a communal recharge system. The facility supplies domestic, entrepreneurial and community needs such as schools, health centres, water supply, public lighting for around 100 households, without connection to the national grid. This project allows 300 people access to clean energy.