Stockholm, 28 April 2020. At the first Steering Committee meeting of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA), Sweden today gave the green light to expand the programme into Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mozambique and open a second financing round in Zambia. Following this decision, BGFA will launch a Call for Proposals this autumn inviting interested off-grid energy service providers to compete for a number of funding windows. The aim is to stimulate new sustainable business models which incentivise and accelerate the private sector to offer affordable and clean off-grid energy access at scale.
The Call for Proposals is expected to offer access to off-grid energy service providers for funding from BGFA to incentivise them to provide energy connections to people in rural areas. The aim is to provide up to 700,000 connections and benefit more than 3.5 million people in rural areas. The Call for Proposals is planned to be launched in September, and further information will be disseminated via the BGFA website and social media channels.
Launched in 2016, the pilot programme Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia (BGFZ) has already connected over 800,000 Zambians to off-grid electricity. Building on this success, Sweden asked the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) last year to set up and manage BGFA in order to expand the approach to other African countries, starting with Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mozambique, as well as furthering efforts in Zambia with an initial contribution of SEK 500 million (approx. EUR 46 million). BGFA is implemented by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP).
BGFA’s Programme Manager Anders Arvidson of Sida stated, “In order to reach the goal of universal access to electricity, it is necessary to stimulate new methods and business models that offer sustainable and scalable solutions aimed at populations that are outside the physical or economic scope of the national electricity grid. The social impact procurement approach developed in the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia and now used in BGFA has proven to be able to quickly reach out to underserved populations in a sustainable way”.
The facility aims to accelerate the entrance and scale up of commercially sustainable businesses through an innovative social impact procurement mechanism. The primary target group will be private sector enterprises that provide climate-friendly, off-grid energy service subscriptions. In the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, energy access is particularly vital for improving access to information.
“The funding windows that Sweden approved today are targeted at supporting sustainable and inclusive development of the off-grid energy service markets in the BGFA countries, aimed at a balanced and diversified portfolio approach across viable renewable energy technologies – including stand-alone residential and productive systems, microgrids and integrated electrification – and private energy service providers in terms of numbers of firms, size and maturity levels”. says NEFCO’s Ash Sharma, Head of BGFA.
Andreas Zahner, BGFA Programme Director at REEEP, is optimistic about the expansion and BGFA’s ability to fulfil the different needs of each country. ‘’Based on the conclusions and recommendations of extensive market scoping and stakeholder consultation in the four BGFA countries and reflecting on the lessons learnt from the implementation of the first financing round in Zambia, we think the facility will come at exactly the right time for these countries, which are under tremendous pressure at the moment, yet do not want to lose sight of their electrification planning objectives or Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all)”.
The Call for Proposals will entail an online-based process and is expected to be launched for all four countries on 1 September 2020. Detailed selection criteria will be made available in June 2020 on the BGFA website www.beyondthegrid.africa.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is the Swedish government agency for development cooperation. Sida strives to reduce world poverty by allocating resources and knowledge with the goal of making a difference for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. To achieve this, Sida collaborates with actors from civil society and universities as well as the public and private sectors. Sida’s activities are funded through Swedish tax revenue.
The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa facility is established and managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), an international financial institution focused on environmental and climate investments, and implemented in partnership with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, working to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries. Sweden is contributing an initial SEK 500 million (approx. EUR 46 million) to the expansion through Sida and its embassies in target countries. The facility is open to other like-minded donors and is in discussion with a number of potential contributors.