The Africa Mini Grids Program, a multi-partner initiative launched earlier this month on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Conference COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh aims to support countries to rapidly and cost-effectively provide electricity and new development opportunities to some of Africa’s poorest communities, APA reliably learnt Wednesday from an authoritative source.
The initiative founded the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and implemented by UNDP in partnership with national governments, RMI (founded as Rocky Mountain Institute), and the African Development Bank (AfDB), aims to help countries crowd in private investment to scale up and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy Mini grids.
Mini grids are stand-alone electricity networks that are typically not connected to the national electricity grid.
It said that solar-battery Mini grids hold great potential to boost electricity access in the AMP’s 21 countries – powering households, key social services such as health centers and schools, and businesses, driving economic growth.
UNDP modelling estimates that Mini grids will be the lowest-cost approach to bring electricity to 265 million people in these countries by the year 2030.
Projections indicate that $65 billion in new investments, primarily from the private sector, would be needed to realize the Mini grid opportunity in such countries. This is estimated to equate to the construction of 110,000 minigrids, bringing electricity to more than 200,000 schools and clinics, and more than 900,000 businesses.
Commenting on the new initiative, Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator said: "We know that innovative policies, technologies, and business models to scale up existing solutions are needed to achieve SDG 7 on universal access to affordable and reliable energy – business-as-usual won’t do"
"Current market transformation approach aims to deliver impact at the pace and scale needed to effectively help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving no-one behind," he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF said: "Improving access to clean energy in remote areas has so many benefits — it directly improves quality of life, creates job opportunities particularly for women, and also reduces carbon emissions"
"I am thrilled to see the Africa Mini grids Program advance and look forward to sharing the lessons from its rollout across our partnership and in all the countries and communities we are supporting in the clean energy transition,"" he said.
Estimates show that yet half of the people living sub-Saharan Africa – 568 million people – don’t have access to electricity, effectively locking some of the world’s most vulnerable communities in poverty.