ECOWAS launches regional off-grid electrification project

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The ECOWAS regional off-grid electrification project (ROGEP) was launched in Dakar on the second day of the ECOWAS sustainable energy forum. It is one of ECOWAS Community Development Projects designed to facilitate investments in a bid to increase access to sustainable electricity services in the ECOWAS region. This according to experts will cater for household, commercial enterprises as well as public health and educational facilities.

The project will be implemented in stages which will entail technical assistance to improve off-grid market ecosystem, including creating the conducive environment for implementation of the electrification programs within the project.

The project will also support financial intermediaries to finance service providers to electrify households and commercial enterprises including the establishment of a credit facility for private sector solar enterprises to develop the market for off-grid electricity products and services in the project countries. Service providers will also be supported to electrify public institutions, including support for the electrification of public institutions and community facilities, using mini-grids and/or standalone systems.

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The initial investment for the project is estimated at 200 million US Dollars and will cover all 15 ECOWAS member States and as well as 4 non ECOWAS member states including Mauritania, Chad, Central African Republic and Cameroon.

The World Bank is tasked to mobilize 50% of the overall budget to facilitate access to finance for private sector promoters of solar systems for homes as well as for electrification of public facilities such as health centres and schools.

Addressing delegates at the launch ceremony, the Executive Director of ECREEE, Mr. Mahama Kappiah described the project as the most ambitious regional initiative ever conducted in West Africa to promote off-grid electrification by standalone solar solutions. Mr. Kappiah further noted that the project is one of the priority ECOWAS Community development initiatives which have the potential of being a ground-breaking intervention- a major acceleration from plans to actions.

He stressed the need to inject additional power into our national grids noting that off-grid renewable energy solutions offer a reliable and cost-effective solution for millions of households in our region.
Also speaking at the ceremony the Lead Energy Specialist at the World Bank, Raihan Elahi informed delegates that the project will support local entrepreneurship development facilities and provide seed funding support to eligible renewable energy companies.

Mr. Elahi said in addition, to support scaling up of successful solar businesses; the project will provide access to finance through suitable debt instruments. This aspect he said will also require partnership with regional and local financial intermediaries.

Mr. Elahi expressed his conviction that the project will not only ensure the achievement of the World Bank Group’s Africa Climate Business Plan targets, but will also create a strong foundation on which the West African countries will achieve their goal of universal electricity access.

The Director of Energy, at the Senegalese Ministry of Energy and Development of Renewable Energy, Pape Ibrahima Niane, also dilated on the importance of the project noting that access to electricity services through off-grid solar systems are fundamental to achieving universal access to electricity by 2030. Mr. Niane told delegates that studies have shown that only 30% of newly connected Africans will have access to electricity through the national grid.

He further pointed out that the remaining 70% will have access through off-grid systems. Mr. Niane noted that in order to stimulate investment in the off-grid sector, a conducive environment should be created, encourage the participation of financial institutions as well as building the capacities of local entrepreneurs.

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