IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, launched an online tool to develop off-grid energy in Sub Saharan Africa. The “Off-Grid Market Opportunity Tool” draws on a database that will help companies, governments, development agencies, academics and civil society to better assess the potential market for off-grid energy solutions.

The Off-Grid Market Opportunity Tool, and others like it, assesses market potential and provides data on characteristics and key attributes in different geographic regions, allowing project developers and policy-makers to scale up off-grid initiatives. The geographical focus of the tool is currently limited to Sub-Saharan Africa, and may be expanded in the future.

The database platform and tool can be accessed at https://energydata.info. It builds on open geospatial data to provide a broad overview on markets for off-grid electrification based on a number of relevant parameters. The open source software allows users to improve on the tool’s functions by building on the code. Users can also produce more accurate results by exporting analyses generated by the tool and combining them with other data.

“This tool aims to help distributed energy service companies, or DESCOs, that are operating in the off-grid space in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is part of IFC’s ongoing efforts to support these companies, which are contributing to closing the energy gap in the region,” said Milagros Rivas, Global Head of IFC’s Cross-Cutting Advisory Solutions.

With over a billion people globally lacking access to electricity, off-grid technologies and business models are emerging as part of the solution to closing the energy access gap. 

The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2040, about half of the 634 million people without access to electricity in rural Africa, will gain electricity access by the development of both mini-grids and off-grid energy systems.