AfDB approves $20 Million to install solar based mini grids in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved the allocation of $20 million in loans to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to support renewable-based, mini-grid solutions to the off-grid cities of Isiro, Bumba and Genema. According to the organization, the DR Congo Green Mini-Grid Program will serve as the pilot to an innovative private-led electrification approach to deploy renewable-based mini-grid solutions in the central African nation: »The program will supply power to cities with sizeable populations, some of them with a few hundred thousand inhabitants, without any access to modern energy.«
The Bank’s financing will complement the UK’s Department for International Development-backed »Essor« initiative (Access to Electricity, A2E), which is a technical assistance program that supports the Government-led mini-grid auction and project preparation. AfDB will provide a blend of private and concessional resources notably from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other development partners to the sponsors that will be selected in the auction process. The Board of the GCF approved $21 million for the program in October 2018.
The Bank is also providing a $1 million Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) grant to provide advisory services to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the procurement of solar PV mini-grid systems. The advisory services also encompass mini-grid regulatory framework development, project feasibility studies, extensive policy and regulatory level engagement.
Upon completion, the envisioned mini-grids that range from 3 to 10 MW will directly connect 21,200 households and 2,100 SMEs and public buildings, benefitting at least 150,000 people. Many Congolese rely on kerosene or diesel fuel for their lamps, cookers and electricity generators. Less than one percent of rural and 35 percent of urban areas have access to electricity from the national grid. Sub-Saharan Africa averages 24.6 percent on-grid electricity coverage.

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