Power supplier EDF Energy and World Bank Group member International Finance Corporation (IFC) have agreed to cooperate in the development of off-grid electrification in sub-Saharan Africa.
A first pilot project will start in Benin and provide electricity for 25,000 people in its first phase, using hybrid solar-diesel networks and two biomass fired power plants. Other countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and Myanmar will follow at a later stage.
“Almost 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity in the world. Bringing power to these people is a major challenge that we must address”, said Bertrand Heysch de la Borde, senior manager for infrastructure in Africa at IFC.
The goal of the cooperation is to supply power to half a million people living in rural areas. EDF and IFC will also seek for sources of financing to potential projects and explore sustainable co-investment opportunities where necessary, according to the companies.
“Electricity is a vital product without which no real development is possible. Access to energy for rural populations, who are more often the most disadvantaged ones, allows poverty reduction by developing income-generating activities, while also promoting education, health, access to water, etc,” said Edouard Dahome, EDF director for Africa and access to energy.
IFC is currently providing off-grid power through its “Lighting Africa” initiative to almost 7m people in several rural regions in Africa while EDF delivers electricity to 500,000 people on the continent.