WASHINGTON, January 30, 2020 –Thousands of Basotho living in rural and peri-urban areas will have better access to reliable and affordable electricity as a result of $40 million in new financing from the International Development Association (IDA)* and an additional $12.9 million from the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) for the country’s energy sector.
The Lesotho Renewable Energy and Energy Access Project, which is largely targeted at people living in remote areas, aims to expand access to electricity to diverse consumers with varied needs, including households, rural communities and in the outskirts of urban areas, small and medium enterprises and economic centers that are on or off the grid. The project will also provide technical assistance to build capacity of both public and private sectors to ensure sustainable provision of electricity in Lesotho. This project will give an impetus to Lesotho in its achievements of Sustainable Development Goals 7 - Affordable and clean energy
“Through this project, the World Bank will assist the Government of Lesotho towards achieving its goal of providing universal access and affordable energy in a sustainable manner, while helping improve the lives of Basotho particularly in the hard-to-reach rural areas and peri-urban areas,” said Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, Namibia and South Africa. This is in line with the Lesotho National Strategic Development Plan and the World Bank Group twin goals of reducing extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity”.
The project will create the conditions for more effective service delivery in remote areas and will contribute to creating an enabling environment for economic activity that will foster job creation for the youth through the participation of the private sector in the delivery of on and off the grid energy. It will support upgrading of the Lesotho Electricity Corporation (LEC)’s hydro-based mini-grid in the remote village of Semonkong to provide additional connections to both household and commercial customers, as well as metering solutions for new and existing customers. It will also support grid extensions to commercial and industrial consumers located in the economic zones of Lesotho.
The project will also facilitate the electrification of areas where supply through mini-grids would be the least-cost option. In particular, the project will strengthen the legal and regulatory framework for the deployment of mini-grids and will help finance the construction of mini-grid infrastructure to provide electricity services to new users in up to 40 communities.
*The World Bank’s international Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for project and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.