Scaling Off-Grid Energy is set to invest US$36 million to empower entrepreneurs and investors to connect 20 million households in Sub-Saharan Africa with off-grid energy by 2030.
The move follows the Power Africa project which was initiated in 2013 by US President Barack Obama to increase access to electricity across Africa, and USAID’s U.S.
Global Development Lab launched the initiative to empower entrepreneurs and investors to grow a market and connect households living outside the electricity grid with modern, clean and affordable electricity.
According to Scidev.net, the initiative aims to build a vibrant market across Sub-Saharan Africa by supporting growth of innovative entrepreneurs to make off-grid solutions affordable for rural families with profitable business ventures as well as catalyze private investments for them to spread to new markets.
Chris Jurgens, director of the Center for Transformational Partnerships at USAID and Scaling off Grid Energy said in an interview, “over 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. Most countries are unlikely to connect their entire populations to grid electricity for years, if not decades. As a result, many households rely on expensive, polluting, and unsafe kerosene and diesel for their energy needs.”
Off-grid clean energy solutions, he explained, provide a market-based, cost-effective way to access electricity for communities off connections. “Off-grid solutions help improve quality of life for households by providing clean, reliable energy that can do everything from lighting up the night for children to do their school work to charging cell phones and running household appliances.”
Essentially, off-grid renewable energy solutions, especially household solar sector, is critical to reaching that goal “as the cost of solar technologies is rapidly falling, while the cost of alternatives such as kerosene is rising, making the economics more attractive.” But they are open to supporting other low-cost, renewable energy solutions.
“Energy access affects us all, but women disproportionately face the greatest energy challenges, and it affects education and economic opportunities. When women and girls spend their daylight hours gathering firewood and other household chores, they miss out on participating in other activities like education and economic ventures.” Jurgens added.