World Bank Approves US$22.5 Million for West and Central African Countries to Support Solar Energy

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a total of US$ 22.5 million in additional financing to the Regional Off Grid Electricity Access Project.

The facility will be in the form of grants from the International Development Association and the Clean Technology Fund to support the development of the market for stand-alone solar products in Western and Central Africa, including a dedicated effort for the Sahel countries.

This complements the US$ 150 million of International Development Association and US$ 67.2 million Clean Technology Fund approved by the Board in April 2019 for this project.

The project will be supporting activities to accelerate the deployment of stand-alone solar products, in a sub region where 50 per cent of the population does not have access to electricity, and where less than 3 per cent of the population uses such innovative technologies.

It pursue to harmonize policies and standards as well as business procedures to develop a regional market of stand-alone solar products, support entrepreneurs in business acceleration activities, and provide credits and grants for the deployment of stand-alone solar home systems.

This project is expected to contribute to human capital development by electrifying public health centers and schools which are needed to improve health and education outcomes.

It will support job creation, for instance in the farming communities which can use solar water pumps for irrigation, solar milling equipment for product transformation, and solar refrigerators to bring products to the market. The project will support the small and innovative business enterprises through solar home systems and will make an impact in economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project’s geographic scope covers 19 countries in Western and Central Africa, 15 of which are members of ECOWAS (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), as well as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Mauritania.
“Stand-alone solar systems have a large market potential in Western and Central Africa including in the Sahel, but investments in off-grid solutions have lagged behind in the sub-region”, said Deborah Wetzel, World Bank director of regional integration for sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

“The new financing will help and address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create more jobs for the millions of people currently who are living without electricity connection or with unreliable supply, as well as for businesses and public institutions who will use modern stand-alone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities”.

Through this additional funding and restructuring, the Economic Community of West African States has been appointed as a new implementing agency of the project, which will work on developing a regional market, and supporting activities for entrepreneurs.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will co-ordinate the project activities with the West African Development Bank (BOAD), and the other implementing agency of the project, which will support the provision of a line of credit with commercial banks operating in the sub-region.