Tenth portfolio company in Zambia scaling up access to energy through mini-grids

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa has signed its tenth project in Zambia to scale up access to clean energy and support the acceleration of the green energy transition in the country. These Zambian projects expect to deliver over 850,000 energy service connections and provide over 4.2 million people in remote areas with access to affordable electricity by the end of 2027.

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) has signed an agreement with Zambian Rising Sun Solar Energy Limited to scale up access to electricity by establishing mini-grids in the Western, Eastern and Southern provinces of the country. The company was founded in 2023 and is jointly owned by GDS International, Anka and Earth Technologies. The approx. EUR 2.3 million of results-based financing to be provided from BGFA, some of which will be channelled into providing energy access for productive use, will mobilise additional co-financing in the amount of approx. EUR 4.8 million by the end of the project implementation in 2027.

“Our mission is to contribute to achieving universal access to clean energy by scaling up clean off-grid energy solutions through the deployment of mini-grids. We are grateful for the financing from BGFA, which is a real stepping stone for us and our aim to install 100 mini-networks in Zambia by 2030,” says Alexis Rehbinder, CEO at Zambian Rising Sun.

With the financial support of BGFA, Zambian Rising Sun plans to build 11 solar-based mini-grids with a battery storage system. The new mini-grids are expected to bring clean energy access and lighting to households, small businesses and other institutions. Out of approximately 3,800 expected energy connections, some 2,500 will be for residential purposes and about 240 for institutional and commercial purposes. In addition, some 1,000 connections will be used to provide street lighting in the planned mini-grid areas. Of the residential connections, over 1,200 will be equipped with an electrical cooking solution. In total, the financed project is expected to provide about 19,000 people with access to electricity by the end of 2027.

The size of the mini-grids will be individually designed for each of the planned installations and range between 50 kWp and 200 kWp. The plan is to extend the size of the mini-grids once they have been in operation for ten years to meet the expected growth in demand for energy. The mini-grids will be able to broadly support households, farmers, commercial customers and public institutions in their various energy needs. Users will be able to digitally monitor their consumption and prepay via a mobile payment platform.

“It is an important and exciting milestone for BGFA that we have now signed our tenth portfolio company in Zambia, and together with Zambian Rising Sun we will be able to provide affordable electricity access in several provinces to households, institutional and commercial customers to improve their daily lives,” comments Aliona Fomenco, Investment Manager at Nefco.

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa has contracted 24 companies in Burkina Faso, DRC, Liberia, Uganda and Zambia. Cumulatively, once implemented, the current programme portfolio will have the potential to reach over 8.5 million people across these five countries. The BGFA funding window in Zambia is funded by Germany, Norway and Sweden.

For further information, please contact:

Aliona Fomenco, Investment Manager at Nefco
aliona.fomenco@nefco.int, +358 10 6180 647

Pierre Bucaille, Project Developer at GDS International
pierre.bucaille@gdsolaire.com, +33 (0) 6 77 02 21 61

About Zambian Rising Sun

Zambian Rising Sun is a joint venture company owned by GDS International, a Générale du Solaire company developing and constructing solar energy projects throughout SSA; Earth Technologies, a Lebanese construction company specialised in solar energy projects; and Anka Madagascar, an innovative and inclusive Malagasy company that already operates multiple solar mini-grids. By combining their resources, the three companies aim to contribute to improving energy access in Zambia and thus foster development for the country.

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. BGFA is implemented by Nefco, with the support of two project implementation partners. NIRAS is a development and engineering consultancy company headquartered in Denmark. 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 126 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 funded by Denmark through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany through its development bank KfW, Norway through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation Norad and Sweden. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution. Read more at www.beyondthegrid.africa

Photo: Implemented mini-grid in Benin by GDS International – Zambian Rising Sun

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