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FEATURE STORY February 26, 2019

This Is What It’s All About: Boosting Renewable Energy in Africa

This story is part of a series that will run ahead of the third edition of the One Planet Summit which will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 14, 2019. The Summit will bring together global leaders, entrepreneurs, international organizations, and civil society, to help accelerate and focus attention on climate investments in line with the Paris Agreement objectives. The Summit will focus on promoting renewable energies, fostering resilience and adaptation and protecting biodiversity in Africa. Follow #OnePlanet for live updates and tune in live on March 14.


Roughly 1 billion people – or about 13 percent of the world’s population – live without electricity. In Africa, today, one in three people don’t have access to electricity, often having to resort to using kerosene or spending hours in darkness.  Almost 87% of those without electricity live in rural areas. Those who do have electricity often find it unreliable or expensive. Sub-Saharan Africa’s share in the global access deficit has more than doubled between 1990 and 2016. Despite progress in all world regions, the world is not on track to achieve universal electricity access by 2030, with Sub-Saharan Africa at great risk of being left behind. Universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy – Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 – is essential to reach other SDGs and is at the center of efforts to tackle climate change.


Access to electricity makes communities safer, helps small businesses thrive, and powers essential services such as schools and clinics. The World Bank is committed to helping countries transition to low-carbon energy systems and ensuring that everyone around the world has access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all. Between 2014 and 2018, the World Bank provided more than $11.5 billion in financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency. A comprehensive approach to scaling up access to electricity is critical. Mini-grids are emerging as a key player for cost-effective and reliable electrification of rural areas and have the potential for playing a significant role in efforts to achieve universal energy access. The Bank is currently one of the largest financiers in this sector - supporting about 25% of mini grid investments in the developing world. For instance, in rural areas that are not connected to the main electricity grid, solar hybrid mini-grids in place of fossil fuel-based systems could reduce emissions by about 80%. The World Bank is actively mobilizing private sector investment in mini-grid initiatives by helping establish enabling policies, demonstrating viable business models, and providing seed funding that can be used to leverage commercial financing.


  • In Nigeria, the World Bank-funded Nigeria Electrification Project aims to expand cost-efficient access to electricity to nearly 80 million people who currently lack access to it. Mini-grids are expected to be part of the solution, with an estimated 850 mini grids extending electricity access to at least 300,000 households and 30,000 businesses.
  • In Mozambique, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is supporting the country’s first utility scale solar power plant which will help increase electricity sector climate resilience and deliver power to rural areas.  The project also includes support from the Climate Investment Funds. It will deliver power to the national grid and produce enough energy to serve about 175,000 households.
  • In Senegal, the Multilateral Insurance Guarantee Agency (MIGA), is supporting the country’s first utility-scale wind farm. The project is expected to provide approximately 300,000 households with electricity, especially in rural areas. As the largest wind project in Sub-Saharan West Africa, the project will also have a useful demonstration effect, showcasing the technical, financial, and institutional feasibility of large-scale wind projects in the country and in the region.
  • In Zambia, the Scaling Solar Program brought together a suite of World Bank, IFC investment and advisory, and MIGA services and instruments under a single engagement aimed at creating viable markets for grid-connected solar PV power plants. The electricity generated from the 48MW plant located outside the capital city of Lusaka will be sold to the Zambian utility company through a 25-year power purchase agreement.
  • In Ghana, the World Bank is bringing renewable energy to rural communities by investing in solar mini-grids. The project will provide reliable electricity to about 10,000 people in island communities around Lake Volta, with an aggregated installed capacity of 1.7 MW.