Over 600 million people are estimated to lack access to modern energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, this is set to change as off-grid energy firms in Africa are set to receive $55-million investment from AfDB,  Nordic Development Fund among other investors in a move expected to scale up access to clean electricity for off-grid households and crowding in local financial institutions as co-lenders.

To make this a reality, the African Development Bank’s Board approved a $30-million investment in the Facility for Energy Inclusion Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (“FEI OGEF”). This follows the approval of additional investments of US $10 million from Calvert Impact Capital (CIC), US $8.5 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and €6 million from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF). In addition, the NDF will provide a €0.5-million grant for technical assistance to support deal structuring and capacity development.

FEI OGEF is a US $100-million blended finance debt fund designed to provide loans in local and hard currencies to off-grid energy companies with the dual objectives The Fund directly supports the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and is part of its “High 5” priority to light up and power the continent, with an aspirational target of connecting 75 million households through off-grid energy access solutions by 2025. Through the use of clean energy instead of fossil fuels to power communities, the Fund is expected to result in the reduction of up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.

“FEI OGEF is the first Bank instrument that enables debt financing, including in local currency, to off-grid energy access companies who need growth capital to expand their operations across Africa. The strong collaboration demonstrates the power of partnerships for clean energy access in Africa,” said Astrid Manroth, Director, Transformative Energy Partnerships at the African Development Bank.

The Fund is a first mover matching local currency debt instruments with recent innovations in off-grid energy business models to scale up energy access for underserved and rural households. It provides a blended capital structure whereby investments in equity provides comfort and risk cushioning to attract early participation and additional investment by development finance institutions and other commercial investors.

“OGEF squarely fits within our investment mandate of leveraging public capital at scale to create systemic change in sectors and geographies that have been overlooked by mainstream capital markets. We are excited to work with the AfDB and the other investors to scale this facility and increase access to clean electricity for off-grid households in Africa,” said Jenn Pryce, President and CEO of Calvert Impact Capital.

The Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI) is the Bank’s flagship initiative for providing long-term finance to small-scale renewable energy access projects, of which FEI OGEF is one of the financing windows. FEI has been developed with grant support from the Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).