The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund has inaugurated the second round of its household solar competition worth £16m to promote access to solar home systems to rural dwellers in Nigeria and four other African countries.
It said the programme, which was done in partnership with the United Kingdom, would provide solar power to not just households in Nigeria but to rural residents in Ethiopia, Somalia, Ghana and Senegal.
The Senior Programme Officer, AECF, William Mulehi, stated at a press conference in Abuja that one in seven people lived in energy poverty and were forced to light and power their lives with candles, kerosene and batteries in Africa.
He noted that this was one major reasons why the fund had decided to promote solar household systems in the selected countries, adding that the AECF would support companies through the competition to provide access to electricity to rural populations.
Mulehi stated that the second round of the household solar funding initiative would provide a mix of interest free loans, repayable grants and technical assistance to the private sector.
“As a critical component of Africa Clean Energy Programme, the competition seeks to increase the supply of household systems to rural markets at affordable costs, facilitated through innovative financing models, operating and distributing models such as pay-as-you-go and micro-financed interventions,” he stated.
The Chief Executive Officer, AECF, Daniel Ohonde, noted that renewables provide just 18 per cent of Africa’s current power generating capacity and that developing off-grid alternatives could create more opportunities and transform millions of lives.
“Solar home systems are a simple solution that do not appear in the macro-economic statistics, yet they have the ability to transform the lives of millions of school children,” he added.
In a speech that was made available at the conference, the Head of Office, Department For International Development Ethiopia, Christian Rogg, said, “The increasing demand for electricity, high cost of power generation and limited supply of electricity to rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa is a narrative that constantly repeats itself across the continent.
“Although the situation persists, initiatives promoting household solar systems through the private sector have started to offer affordable solutions to rural communities for lighting and economic use.”
The fund stated that over the past seven years the AECF had funded private sector companies that took advantage of market drivers like mobile network and data services, mobile payment systems, etc, to accelerate access to solar home systems in rural sub-Saharan Africa.