To further support the scale-up of energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is launching a new country program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with financing from Sweden. It is the sixth country to join the BGFA program.
Energy poverty is widespread in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the second-largest country in Africa, especially in rural areas. Whilst some 40 percent of the urban population has access to electricity, in rural areas this number is only some 10 percent, according to a 2019 report published by Power Africa.
In terms of the number of households that have access to electricity, it is less than 20 percent. With a widely dispersed population and a national grid that does not reach the majority of the population, there is enormous potential for off-grid solutions including solar home systems and mini-grids.
Sweden, through its Embassy in Kinshasa, will support the expansion of BGFA to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with SEK 200 million (≈ EUR 20 million). The overall aim of the new country programme is to create access to affordable renewable energy solutions for people living in rural and peri-urban areas in the country.
In addition, Sweden hopes that the support from BGFA will build up a sustainable energy system, increase productivity and opportunities for small businesses, and support resilience towards climate change.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the world’s lowest rates of access to electricity. The off-grid solutions financed through the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa will form an integral part of Sweden’s support to the efforts to give isolated and highly inaccessible areas and economically weak groups access to electricity. In my exchanges with provincial and local authorities and with the Congolese people when I travel around the country, access to electricity is often raised as a priority, both for recurrent, daily activities but also increased employment opportunities. Through Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, Sweden wants to contribute to reduced poverty and durable development while accompanying the country in building up a durable energy system with a small climate impact, said Henric Råsbrant, Sweden’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Provide financial incentives
BGFA will provide financial incentives to private companies that will offer high-quality and sustainable energy services and products under inclusive market conditions to rural and peri-urban people in energy-poor regions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to accelerate private sector provision of clean energy.
In line with the other BGFA countries, the country programme will also provide project implementation support to selected energy service providers, monitor the delivery of outcomes and seek to provide local institutional capacity building by engaging key stakeholders in the country.
We are very pleased to announce further expansion of the BGFA programme in cooperation with Sweden, doubling the size of the programme since its launch in 2019. By incentivising the private sector to scale off-grid energy solutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we will support the establishment of thousands of new off-grid connections, benefiting the rural population in this vast and underserved country, commented Ash Sharma, VP of Nefco and Head of Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa.
As a first phase in the Democratic of the Republic of the Congo, market scoping will be carried out during spring 2022. It is expected that a Call for Proposals-based funding round will open in the third quarter of the year, inviting private sector companies, i.e., energy service providers active in the off-grid sector, to apply for a two-staged funding round.
The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is a multi-donor facility established and managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (Nefco), an international financial institution based in Helsinki, Finland, focusing on environmental and climate investments.
BGFA is implemented in partnership with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, working to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency solutions in developing countries.
BGFA opened its first funding round in September 2020, including Burkina Faso, Liberia and the second stage in Zambia (BGFA1), and later two more funding rounds in Mozambique (BGFA2) and Uganda (BGFA3) in spring 2021. The facility is currently concluding the first round and about to contract its first projects under BGFA1. The current EUR 107.6 million BGFA programme was established in 2019 on Sweden’s initiative through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Sweden contributes SEK 835 million (≈ EUR 80 million) from the Swedish embassies in the target countries. It has since been developed by Nefco into a multi-donor programme.
Denmark, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, joined the BGFA programme in December 2020 and is now providing DKK 117.5 million (≈EUR 15.8 million) to support the programme in Uganda. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution worth US$4.5 million over three years to help operationalise the initiative and develop a pipeline of commercially viable projects within the BGFA framework. Germany, through its development bank KfW, has joined the BGFA programme for Zambia with a focus on mini-grids, providing EUR 7.5 million.