The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) programme has signed four further agreements with off-grid energy service companies in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia to support the expansion and scale-up of mini-grid connections and sales of high-quality solar home systems. With these projects, the BGFA programme has now contracted ten projects supporting the establishment of over 580,000 off-grid energy connections to provide energy access for people living in rural and peri-urban areas in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia.

These four newest projects have been signed with ARESS Burkina Faso, Energicity Corporation in Liberia, Power Corner Zambia Ltd and ENGIE Energy Access Zambia. Both companies in Zambia are part of the ENGIE Afrique SA group, but form separate subsidiaries. The total value of these contracts is approx. EUR 8 million and the total project budgets a minimum of about EUR 16 million.

ARESS Burkina Faso a company providing solar home systems in remote areas of Burkina Faso. The ARESS group has been present in Burkina Faso since 2018, and it also has three other subsidiaries, in Benin, Senegal and Togo, and a total of nine years of experience in West African markets. The ARESS group has over 50,000 delivered energy service subscriptions, more than 4 MWp in assets and 33 mini-grids currently under construction. With the BGFA funding, ARESS Burkina Faso will scale up its current business activities in Burkina Faso using a pay-as-you-go business approach over a four-year period. The company plans to establish over 20,000 new energy service subscriptions, including both residential energy needs, such as lighting, mobile phone charging, TV and fridges, and customised kits for business and institutional uses. The project will provide clean energy and lighting to up to 19,000 new households and approx. 2,000 businesses.

“We are very happy to be one of the companies awarded through the BGFA programme, which aims to deploy clean, sustainable and competitive energy solutions to people in remote areas of Burkina Faso. With the support from the programme we will be able to scale-up our activities in the country and reach up to 21,000 businesses and households with our solar home systems,” said Léonide Michael Sinsin, CEO at ARESS Burkina Faso.

“We are very happy to have signed our second project in Burkina Faso and to be starting our cooperation with ARESS Burkina Faso to scale up access to affordable off-grid solar home systems, benefiting up to 116,000 people in remote areas of the country,” commented Aliona Fomenco, Investment Manager at Nefco.

Energicity is a US-based company established in 2015 that builds and operates solar-powered mini-grids for off-grid communities with more than 100 households, targeting customers using up to 1,000 Wh/day. The company currently has 30 operational sites in Sierra Leone and is developing 27 mini-grids in Benin. With the support from BGFA, Energicity will establish a local subsidiary in Liberia for the development and operation of mini-grids to serve low-income customers in remote areas in the country. The plan is to develop up to 30 solar-based mini-grids, over a four-year period, leveraging the company’s methods for working with local materials and artisans for the construction. Energicity’s implemented mini-grids in Liberia will result in the establishment of over 4,100 residential, commercial and institutional energy service connections.

“Energicity is proud to partner with BGFA. The provided financing enables us to expand our operations to a third West-African country and we are looking forward to providing affordable and sustainable mini-grid electricity to thousands of Liberians living in off-grid communities,” said Nicole Poindexter, CEO and founder at Energicity.

“We are excited to start the cooperation with Energicity to support its establishment in Liberia and its development of several solar-based mini-grids that will provide energy access to people in remote rural areas in the country,” commented Dennis Hamro-Drotz, Senior Programme Manager at Nefco.

Power Corner Zambia was established in 2018, and it has implemented a pilot project that has been operational since May 2019, serving 195 connections in Chitandika Village in the Eastern Province of Zambia. With the financing from BGFA, the subsidiary will scale up its business operations in the country and it plans to develop 11 solar-based mini-grids with a capacity of 100 kW each by the end of 2026. The mini-grids will utilise a cloud-based smart application. This will allow for real time payments using mobile money, provide service delivery for the customers and monitor consumption. The implemented mini-grids will generate over 3,200 connections for households, resulting in energy access for over 16,000 people.

ENGIE Energy Access Zambia began delivering off-grid solar home systems to Zambia in 2017, initially under the name Fenix International. Since then, the company has provided more than 230,000 customers in Zambia with clean energy, benefiting over 1 million people in the country. The company was one of the awardees in the BGFA pilot programme, Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia, and it has successfully met its sales targets within this project. With this new BGFA funding, ENGIE Energy Access Zambia will further scale up its activities by providing up to 296,000 households with clean energy, benefiting a further 1.5 million people in Zambia.

“The two signed projects with BGFA through our subsidiaries Power Corner Zambia and ENGIE Energy Access Zambia demonstrate our company’s overall commitment to deploy both mini-grid and solar home system solutions in Zambia. Thanks to our inclusive ‘Access-to-Energy’ approach, the mini-grid installations will increase productivity in the selected remote areas and support villagers in growing their economic activity, contribute to less urban migration and empower women. The solar home systems project will improve affordability of individual solar kits. Our projects will benefit up to 312,000 households in Zambia. This is a major boost for the country in providing clean and affordable energy to the population,” said Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO at ENGIE Energy Access.

“We are happy to continue our cooperation with ENGIE Energy Access, which, through its further business scale-up and estimated new energy service subscriptions from both awarded projects, Power Corner Zambia and ENGIE Energy Access, will be able to benefit some 1.56 million people and have a large impact for the remote communities in Zambia,” commented Kari Hämekoski, Senior Programme Manager at Nefco.

The mini-grids that will be constructed to scale up off-grid energy access will serve as village hubs for increased income-generating activity through productive use of electricity, which will drive the creation of socio-economic welfare and increase the reliability of power supplies for people living in remote areas. The distributed solar home systems will provide a cleaner, safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to candles and kerosene lamps, which are often used among low-income customers. The funded companies will also help to improve the affordability of off-grid energy products. In the long term, increased energy access will lead to a higher standard of education and create numerous new employment opportunities in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia.

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa has so far contracted ten projects from the first funding round, which was opened in autumn 2020 in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia (BGFA1), and further projects are under negotiation. The second and third founding rounds opened in spring 2021 in Mozambique (BGFA2) and Uganda (BGFA3) respectively. A fourth funding round (BGFA4) was opened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 21 June 2022 and applications can be submitted through the online system until 29 August 2022.

For further information, please contact:

ARESS in Burkina Faso: Aliona Fomenco, Investment Manager, at Nefco
Aliona.fomenco@nefco.int, +358 10 6180 647

ENGIE Energy Access Zambia: Kari Hämekoski, Senior Programme Manager at Nefco
kari.hamekoski@nefco.int, +35810 618 0660

Energicity in Liberia and Power Corner Zambia: Dennis Hamro-Drotz, Senior Programme Manager
at Nefco, dennis.hamro-drotz@nefco.int, +358 10 6180 641

About BGFA

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is a multi-donor facility established and managed by Nefco – the Nordic Green Bank. Nefco is an international financial institution based in Helsinki, Finland, focusing on environmental and climate investments and fund management. The BGFA programme is implemented by Nefco together with its two project implementation partners. NIRAS is a development and engineering consultancy company headquartered in Denmark with offices in over 25 countries across Europe, Africa, South Asia and Latin America. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency solutions in developing countries.

The current EUR 107.6 million BGFA programme was established in 2019 on Sweden’s initiative through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). It has since been developed by Nefco into a multi-donor programme. Sweden contributes SEK 835 million (EUR 80 million) from the Swedish embassies in all BGFA project countries. Denmark, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contributes DKK 117.5 million (EUR 15.8 million) to support the programme in Uganda. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution worth USD 4.5 million (approx. EUR 4 million) over three years to help operationalise the initiative and develop a pipeline of commercially viable projects within the framework of BGFA. Germany, through its development bank KfW, is supporting the BGFA country programme in Zambia by providing EUR 7.5 million.

Photo: Solar powered mini-grid – Energicity