Access to Reliable and Affordable Off-Grid Energy to be Transformed Across Benin under New EIB – ENGIE Energy Access Initiative
NNN: Scaling up off-grid solar power model to transform rural energy access in Africa; financing from the EIB (www.EIB.org) to improve access to electricity for 643,000 people; Local Currency Financing to Accelerate PAYGO Solution for Affordable Green Energy
Households, small farmers and entrepreneurs in remote parts of Benin will be able to access reliable and cheap electricity for the first time under a new off-grid solar scheme agreed between leading solar company ENGIE Energy Access and the European Investment Bank, one of the most important in the world. largest financiers of renewable energies.
The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide a €10 million loan to support the deployment of 107,000 high-quality solar home systems in Benin. This will open access to clean energy for 643,000 people. Home solar power systems include solar panels and battery storage that will be sold on pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) contracts.
Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, said: “Vulnerable communities in Africa are being hit by the global energy shocks triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so improving access to clean and affordable energy is even more important. to fight poverty, create jobs and empower women and girls The European Investment Bank is pleased to agree new support to scale up off-grid solar energy deployment in West Africa under this new partnership with ENGIE.
“For the first time, more than half a million people in Benin will be able to access electricity that will power communications, provide light and make cooking easier. The deployment of solar home systems will also reduce the use of kerosene, coal, candles and generators to help families save money, reduce pollution and reduce the risk of accidents. Unlocking social, economic and sustainable development through off-grid solar energy is key to Africa’s future and to reduce the impact of global energy shocks, the EIB is pleased to support this project in Benin.”
Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO of ENGIE Energy Access, said: “Over the last few years, the private sector has developed off-grid solutions such as solar home systems (SHS), micro and mini-grids, which have clearly shown that they are solutions sustainable and affordable ways to achieve universal access to energy by 2030.
“Thanks to the use of digital tools and the strong penetration of mobile money in sub-Saharan Africa, ENGIE Energy Access sells energy access products on credit to our customers to make them affordable. It is clear that a combination of capital from private investors and impact funds from multilateral funds is needed to reach the amount of financing needed to realize the energy transition and meet SDG 7 in Africa. Our new partnership with the European Investment Bank in Benin will provide ultra-affordable PAYGO systems to people in villages across the country, providing access to clean solar energy and financial empowerment. With its sustainable integrated business model, ENGIE Energy Access now serves 1.5 million customers, impacting more than 7 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa, reaching people in low-income communities or rural areas who are often left behind. of the economy”.
Benin’s new cooperation follows earlier EIB support to ENGIE to deploy off-grid solar power in Uganda. Benin is the sixth African country to benefit from simplified EIB support for African investment in off-grid energy, following recent support for projects in Mozambique, Uganda, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Comoros.
Solving the last mile challenge to provide power in remote communities in Benin
More than a million homes rely on polluting and inefficient lighting from kerosene or candles, and increasingly expensive generators.
Fewer than one in five people living in remote and rural communities in Benin have access to reliable electricity and only 10% of households use off-grid solar products.
By expanding the adoption of off-grid solar technology in Benin, this new initiative will provide economic, social, educational and health opportunities for families and entrepreneurs who cannot connect to the electricity grid.
Support private sector growth and sustainable development in Benin
Following the new agreement between ENGIE and the European Investment Bank, households, entrepreneurs and small farmers in Benin will be able to access electricity for mobile phones, solar lighting, refrigeration, radio and television. This will help farmers sell their produce, improve the health of communities, and create new markets for merchants.
An increased supply of reliable and affordable energy will create new opportunities for women and girls and reduce exposure to indoor pollution from current kerosene use.
Sylvia Hartleif, European Union Ambassador to Benin, said: “The European Union is committed to supporting sustainable economic and social development throughout Benin. This new cooperation initiative between the European Investment Bank and ENGIE demonstrates the added value of Europe’s commitment to our African partners to transform energy access and fight climate change. Harnessing renewable energy through private sector involvement and innovative off-grid solar technology, combined with the productive use of energy in rural areas, is a direct and concrete result of the European Union’s “Green Deal”. for Africa. The initiative will bring new opportunities to more than half a million people across Benin and will pave the way for the transition to clean energy, in line with the EU’s ‘Global Gateway’ strategy”.
Unlocking financial empowerment and overcoming currency barriers
The PAYGO model provision will allow families who cannot afford the upfront costs of solar home systems to pay for the equipment for a few years at less than $20 cents per day. The new funding from the European Investment Bank will also allow equipment purchased in US dollars to be reimbursed in local currency. Previously, currency fluctuations hampered the provision of clean and affordable energy solutions to communities without access to foreign exchange. Customers will also benefit from lower costs and easier payments by using mobile banking.
Leveraging the EIB’s renewable energy track record in Benin and across Africa
Over the past decade, the European Investment Bank has provided more than €5.4 billion for clean energy investments in Africa. In recent years, the European Investment Bank has been one of the main financiers of the Bujagali hydroelectric project in Uganda and the Nachtigal hydroelectric scheme in Cameroon, the Lake Turkana wind farm, the Olkaria geothermal plant, and the Radiant and Eldosol solar schemes in Kenya, in addition to financing last-mile connections in Kenya and cross-border interconnectors in West, East and Southern Africa. The EIB is also supporting studies to harness hydropower to transform clean energy in Burundi and the Great Lakes region.
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