The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) programme, a multi-donor results-based financing programme for supporting the scale-up of energy access in six Sub-Saharan African countries, is progressing to its next phase as project implementation has started in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia.

The first contracts under the BGFA programme in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia were signed during spring 2022, supporting the establishment of over half a million off-grid energy connections. As these projects are now starting their implementation and reporting on reached project milestones, including established energy service subscriptions (ESSs), it is crucial to bring the programme closer to the supported projects in the BGFA programme countries and their clean off-grid energy markets.

“We are very happy to announce that we have signed a framework agreement with the international consultancy company NIRAS to establish a local footprint supporting the implementation of the BGFA programme together with our long-standing partner REEEP. We are really excited to move into the next phase of the programme and, with support from our two project implementation partners, monitor and assist the progress of our financed projects in all BGFA countries,” comments Ash Sharma, Head of Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa and Vice President of Green Transition Special Funds at Nefco.

With NIRAS, a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy company operating globally and with a strong presence in Africa, the BGFA programme will be able to strengthen its local capacity and presence in all the project countries. The assignment consists of support for independent local monitoring of the contracted companies, i.e. the energy service providers. As part of the on-the-ground monitoring, reporting and verification services (MRV), NIRAS will monitor the contracted energy service providers, review implementation progress and milestones reached by the financed projects, support and coordinate work related to impact evaluations and verification of established energy service subscriptions and provide institutional support in the BGFA countries. NIRAS was selected through a transparent procurement procedure in line with Nefco’s procurement guidelines and procedures.

“NIRAS is excited to get the opportunity to collaborate with Nefco and REEEP. We will form a proactive and highly competent MRV unit such that Value for Money is ensured, while supporting BGFA awardees to successfully implement their projects in each of the project countries. NIRAS has a solid understanding of the off-grid sector needs and technical systems which will help facilitating a speedy and efficient analysis of the projects’ progress. This way we can support the efforts towards considerable growth of the off-grid sector across the region”, says Sven Vejen Hindkjær, Director, NIRAS International Consulting Denmark.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), which has been supporting the BGFA programme with market scoping activities, design of funding windows, development work to expand the programme and due diligence reviews of selected projects since the start-up of the BGFA programme in 2019, will continue to work with the above tasks to support the general programme implementation as well as provide technical assistance support to the BGFA-contracted energy service providers. REEEP has hitherto provided technical assistance to the markets and administrative support to the local Platform for Market Change task force under the pilot programme Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia.

“It has been great to see how BGFA has scaled-up over the last couple of years and REEEP looks forward to continuing its work with Nefco and now also alongside NIRAS to support the deployment of modern sustainable energy connections across our five active countries and to help expand the programme’s impact into new markets as well“, comments Peter Storey, Team Leader at REEEP

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) aims to establish up to 1.35 million energy connections by 2028, benefiting more than 6 million people in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mozambique, Zambia and Uganda. The programme has so far carried out three funding rounds and is now preparing for launching a fourth funding round in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 21 June 2022. The first funding round opened in autumn 2020 in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia (BGFA1), and the second and third in spring 2021 in Mozambique (BGFA2) and Uganda (BGFA3) respectively. BGFA is currently concluding the remaining contract negotiations from the first funding round and evaluating applications received for the Uganda country programme.

For further information, please contact:

Ash Sharma, Vice President of Nefco and Head of Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa
ash.sharma@nefco.int, +358 10 618 06 53

Kari Hämekoski, Senior Programme Manager for the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa at Nefco
kari.hamekoski@nefco.int, +35810 618 0660

About BGFA

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa 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. The BGFA programme is implemented 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 and extensive experience in programme management and implementation of internationally financed technical assistance facilities and funds for various public sector clients. 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). Sweden contributes SEK 835 million (EUR 80 million) from the Swedish embassies in the target countries. It has since been developed by Nefco into a multi-donor programme. Denmark, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, joined the BGFA programme in December 2020 and is now providing 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, has joined the BGFA country programme for Zambia with a focus on mini-grids, providing EUR 7.5 million.

Photo: 8th Off-Grid Task Force meeting in Zambia in March 2022 – Jason Mulikita