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World Bank’s $200 Million Regional Electricity Project Covers Gambia

The World Bank Group has announced on Tuesday that its board has approved over $200 million for the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) in West Africa and the Sahel Region covering The Gambia.

The amount includes $150 million in the form of credit and grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and $74.7 million contingent recovery grant from the Clean Technology Fund to help the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS’ Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

It will also “expand  off-grid access to electricity for populations in 19 countries in West Africa and the Sahel region, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.”

The objective of ROGEP is to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and public institutions using modern stand-alone solar systems through a harmonized regional approach. The project is expected to benefit about 1.7 million people currently living without electricity connection or with unreliable supply, as well as businesses and public institutions who will use modern stand-alone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities.

The Coordinating Director for Regional Integration in West Africa, Rachid Benmessaoud said the new project will help adopt regional standards and regulations to establish a regional market with harmonized policies that will attract larger market players for the benefit of all participating countries.

“So far, only 3 percent of households in West Africa and the Sahel are served by stand-alone solar home systems, and 208 million people in the sub-region do not have access to electricity,” he said. “The project seeks to assist regional policy makers to address barriers to create a regional market for stand-alone solar systems which is essential to reduce energy poverty in the region, and entrepreneurs to take opportunities in this market through development of scalable business solutions.”

Although stand-alone solar systems have a large market potential in West Africa and the Sahel, officials say investments in off-grid renewable energy have lagged behind in the sub-region. The new project is expected to maximizes finance for development by crowding in private investments to deploy innovative technologies.  By developing a regional market, it will help better address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create jobs.

The new project is aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity and the Africa Climate Business Plan. Furthermore, it will implement a pilot to test business models to electrify schools and health clinics critical for the Human Capital Project in West Africa.

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