The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $7 million grant from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), for a new technical assistance initiative meeting the needs of the continent’s fast-evolving renewable mini-grid industry.
The Africa Mini-Grid Market Acceleration Programme (AMAP), which aims to expand private mini-grid investment on the African continent, will include three core components: the implementation of a new and standardised framework for national-scale Mini-Grid Acceleration Programmes (MAPs) in four countries; the design and enhancement of financial de-risking solutions; and support for knowledge, innovation, and skills development activities, including the continuation of the Bank’s Green Mini-Grid Help Desk website.
“Mini-grids are an integral and increasingly important feature of the energy access solution, not just in terms of providing lights to households, but also in ensuring that underserved populations have access to productive uses of energy to power inclusive and green economic growth. AMAP underscores the African Development Bank’s commitment to strengthening Africa’s mini-grids industry, which we see as a key driver for accelerated energy access, climate resilience, and a green post COVID-19 recovery, ” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors on Monday 14 December 2020 approved $15 million from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and $10 million from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) to advance African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) II’s projects to boost low-carbon energy generation in sub-Saharan Africa.
SEFA’s contribution will comprise a package of $10 million in equity and a $5 million reimbursable grant. CTF, part of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), will provide $10 million in equity. The combined contribution of $20 million from SEFA and CTF will go to capitalize AREF II’s catalytic tranche. The reimbursable grant is earmarked for AREF II’s project support facility. The CTF contribution was approved by the CTF Trust Fund Committee on July 2020 under its Dedicated Private Sector Program (DPSP III).
The financing will help small and medium-sized producers to add more than 800 MW of hydropower, solar and wind power and battery storage in countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
“We are very excited to support AREF II at a time when, due to competing financing needs, on account of the cost impacts of the pandemic and for post COVID-19 recovery efforts, there is real risk of under-investment in the African power sector, including in renewables,” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth. The Bank manages SEFA, a Special Fund, and is also a CTF implementing entity.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $20 million concessional investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to establish the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform (CRP). The $50 million blended finance initiative, will provide relief and recovery capital to energy access businesses, supporting them through and beyond the pandemic.
The platform is anchored on a partnership with three specialized energy access fund managers selected through a competitive process: Triple Jump, Lion’s Head Global Partners, and Social Investment Managers and Advisors. The $20 million concessional envelope will be blended with their own capital and instruments, leveraging $30-$40 million in complementary commercial funding and enabling more affordable debt products. Through these partners, the recovery platform will support energy access companies commercializing and deploying solar home systems, green mini-grids, clean cooking and other decentralized renewable energy solutions.
“This initiative underlines the African Development Bank’s commitment to the accelerated growth of Africa’s decentralized energy industry, based on renewables, as a key driver for universal energy access goals,” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
Joao Duarte Cunha, Division Manager for Renewable Energy at the African Development Bank, said the platform would fill a gap in the market.
CrossBoundary Energy Access (CBEA), Africa’s first project financing facility for minigrids, is open sourcing their approach to investing infrastructure capital into mini-grids across Africa.
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 commits the global community to achieving universal energy access by 2030. Time is running out to achieve this goal. 600 million people in Africa still don’t have access to electricity.
Mini-grids are a new and disruptive way to achieve energy access.The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that mini-grids will be the least cost method to connect at least 264 million people by 2030. Mini-grids are ready to scale in Africa but are not yet attracting the finance they need.
Mini-grids are infrastructure. Like traditional infrastructure, they form the basic physical systems of a nation—transportation, communication, water and power. They therefore need long-term, low-cost capital just like other infrastructure assets. However, traditional approaches to infrastructure finance are hard to apply to mini-grids. Unlike traditional infrastructure, mini-grids are small, distributed and serve customers directly, rather than government off-takers. To finance these new and disruptive assets, the mini-grid sector needs new models of financing that allow infrastructure capital to flow into the underlying assets.