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Today, the U.S. Government is formally launching an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Over an initial five year period, Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with 27 investors and practitioners committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market. These private sector commitments will help Power Africa meet and exceed its commitment to provide access to 20 million new connections for households and commercial entities, providing electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa.
Off-grid and small scale energy solutions that generate electricity closer to end users will also bolster productive uses of energy and income generation. By partnering with investors, practitioners, and donors, Beyond the Grid will mobilize new resources, technologies, and expertise to address access to electricity issues in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Beyond the Grid will help to expand the work the U.S. Government is already doing through Power Africa to bring electricity to citizens of sub-Saharan Africa,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With close to 600 million people without access to modern-day electricity, it is clear that centralized grid access is not a comprehensive solution for these countries in one of the world’s least urban continents. But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas.”
Building on the Power Africa initiative’s support for a number of distinct small scale energy projects and small scale solutions across African markets, Beyond the Grid will advance the policy and regulatory frameworks necessary to overcome recurring constraints in the small scale energy space. The framework will also create an effective enabling environment with increasing access to financial and technical assistance historically not available to small energy businesses. Additionally, the framework will incorporate new financial tools such as investment structures that blend donor and private capital, aggregating and de-risking small energy projects in Africa and making them available as a new asset class for investment at scale. The founding partners of the Beyond the Grid include:
Capricorn Investment Group
Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
Gray Ghost Ventures
LGT Venture Philanthropy
Liberia Energy Network
Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
Off Grid Electric
Persistent Energy Partners
Tony Elumelu Foundation
United Nations Foundation
Building on the Beyond the Grid framework, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) has teamed up with GE Africa and USAID to launch the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, designed to meet the needs of communities not served by the traditional grid. This grant challenge, open from now until June 20, will award up to $1.8 million in grant funding to African-managed and –owned enterprises with renewable energy solutions. This second round of the Challenge is an expansion to all 6 Power Africa countries, from the first round awarded in November 2013, of $600K in grant funding for renewable energy business models in Kenya and Nigeria.
Formally launched by President Obama in June 2013, Power Africa is the U.S. Government’s transaction-based development approach to increase access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative has already helped close almost 2,800 MW worth of transactions and has secured commitments for another 5,000 MW, representing almost 75 percent of the initial goal of bringing an additional 10,000 MW of cleaner, more reliable energy to Power Africa’s six focus countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania – and adding 20 million electrical connections for households and commercial entities. To date, Power Africa has leveraged more than $15 billion from the private sector for new on, mini and off-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa.