Niger was awarded a $994,270 grant from the African Development Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to promote green mini-grids (GMGs) and pave the way for private investments in this sub-sector.

The project aims to support Government efforts to provide at least 15% rural access to energy through off-grid and mini-grid solutions by 2020, resulting in increased effective day length and income, and a reduction in recurring energy expenditures; and 15 MW installed GMG capacity by 2020, resulting in mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The programme is also expected to contribute to at least $10 million in funding raised for renewable energy (RE) projects by 2018, resulting in the creation of renewable energy-sector jobs. Further, it will contribute to achieve the energy targets set by the national reference programme for energy access (known by the French acronym “PRASE” and adopted in 2010), which aims to connect at least 40% of rural households to at least one modern energy service by 2018.

“Niger has high and reliable solar irradiation intensity,” stated Kurt Lonsway, AfDB’s Manager for Environment and Climate Change, “and a significant opportunity for GMGs to play a major role in increasing electricity access, which is one of the lowest in the region”.

The programme was championed by the Ministry of Energy and Petrol (ME/P) and will be implemented by the National Directorate for Renewable and Domestic Energy (DERED). The project will prepare a GMG policy, regulations, and enabling framework to promote market-driven GMG development. Specifically to provide institutional and technical support to the ME/P for the Promotion of Rural Electrification efforts under the coordination of the Niger Rural Electrification Agency (ANPER) to formulate a RE-powered mini-grid policy; develop and operationalize a GMG regulatory framework and stimulation measures for private or semi-private utility companies for the operation of mini-grids; and provide technical and institutional capacity building inside the Ministry of Energy, ANPER and other competent institutions. The project will provide support to GMG developers through a business plan competition and feasibility studies; analyse and validate GMG operational models and business cases; and work to remove any fiscal, institutional, technical or quality constraints.

The project is one of SEFA’s Country Programmes under the Enabling Environment support for GMGs that will address sector planning, regulatory and policy interventions and market development activities in up to six countries in 2016-2017. In December 2015, SEFA approved a first GMG Country Support Programme for a total amount of US $840,000 to the Republic of Rwanda.

SEFA’s support to green mini-grids is fully in line with AfDB’s commitment to support energy infrastructure, climate change mitigation and adaptation. The project is part of the AfDB’s “New Deal on Energy for Africa”, and is aligned with Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI)’s objectives of increasing renewable energy penetration.