World Bank urges Africa to use mini grids to boost electricity access

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The World Bank on Wednesday urged Africa to use mini grids in order to boost electricity access in the continent.

World Bank Country Director for Kenya Diarietou Gaye told an energy conference in Nairobi that the majority of the 1.1 billion people globally who still lack access to electricity live in sub Saharan Africa.

"We believe that mini-grids offer a promising solution to provide electricity to these people. We are committed to taking their development to the next level," Gaye said during the African Knowledge Exchange Forum on Electricity Mini-Grids.

The three day event brought participants from both public and private sectors to review the challenges and solutions for scaling up mini grids in Africa.

Mini Grids are typically off-grid electricity solutions in rural areas where connection to the national grid is too costly due to thinly spread populations.

Gaye said that an overwhelming majority of the sub-Saharan African population is expected to be in rural areas for the foreseeable future.

"Mini grids are an ideal solution in Africa where the opportunity cost of waiting for the grid to reach their villages in the next ten to 20 years is too huge," he added.

The World Bank is currently partnering with a number of African countries to help them increase access to modern energy services.

Through the Scaling up Renewable Energy Scale-up Program, the bank is financing initial efforts to scale up mini-grids in Kenya, Mali, Tanzania and Liberia.

The country director said that to date more than 90 million U.S. dollars has been allocated for these mini-grids programs.

Gaye said that mini grids hold great potential for expanding electricity access across the entire region.

"Ensuring access to affordable reliable sustainable and modern energy for all is critical for improving the health and livelihoods of people around the world," she added.

"With adequate reliable lighting children can read and do homework longer and families can generate more income," she observed.

The World Bank official said that many electricity alternatives like kerosene lamps emit a dull light and are a major source of pollution, harming family health as well as the local environment. Endit

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