In Sub-Saharan Africa, access to electricity remains a critical challenge. In rural areas, only 28% of dwellers have access to electricity, meaning roughly 600 million people do not have access to electricity. Rural electrification plays an important role in the economic transformation and development of communities and rural areas across Africa and can act as enablers, facilitators, and drivers for sustainable development. Indeed, rural electrification has provided extended benefits to rural populations in health, education, and income.
Despite limited access to electricity across the continent, Africa has a huge potential for off-grid and micro-grid renewable sources of electricity such as solar power. For instance, West Africa has a Solar PV potential estimated at 103,754 TWh/year over an area covering 5,006,014 Km2.
The development and financing of electrification in rural and remote areas is challenging. Therefore, innovative models and approaches such as reverse linkage modalities need to be developed in order to increase rural electricity penetration and attract investments in many unreached and unconnected parts of the continent.
Towards a Solution
The objective of the Rural Electrification Through Renewable Energy Under Reverse Linkage programme is to develop a platform, including a funding facility, in order to develop rural electrification projects through renewable energy sources. The project focuses on enhancing the capacity of beneficiary countries in rural electrification by establishing a sustainable model for rural electrification for affordable, reliable and clean energy.
The programme uses the IsDB Reverse Linkage approach. Reverse Linkage is a technical cooperation mechanism enabled by the IsDB whereby member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries exchange their knowledge, expertise, technology and resources to develop their capacities and devise solutions for their autonomous development. IsDB plays the role of facilitator, catalyst as well as financier, the other two parties are the country provider of expertise, through a public resources institution (utility), and the recipient country, through a specific executing/beneficiary agency.
For this programme, Morocco, being a leader in renewable energy and rural electrification in the continent, was enlisted as the provider of expertise under tripartite collaboration. Specifically, the Office National de l’Electricite et de l’Eau Potable-Maroc (ONEE) - the main electricity public operator in Morocco was identified as a provider of expertise under the Reverse Linkage arrangement.
The beneficiaries are four IsDB member countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Chad, Niger, Mali and The Gambia. The programme was specifically focused on the Sahel region because of the abundance of sunlight for solar energy (West Africa has a Solar PV potential estimated at 103,754 TWh/year over an area covering 5,006,014 Km2) and limited rural energy access in the region.
To achieve the overall goal of the programme, a Funding Facility was established to support the development of a robust clean energy portfolio in a strategic sector for increased energy access and poverty alleviation in beneficiary countries. More specifically, the Funding Facility aimed at: (i) improving the quality at entry of rural electrification sub-sector interventions to develop robust and highly strategic pipeline and portfolio of projects and (ii) building the capacity of the executing agencies to efficiently manage and implement rural electrification projects.
In addition, the programme established the IsDB-ONEE Funding Facility for Capacity Development & Preparation of Projects under the Reverse Linkage Modality to Leverage Moroccan Expertise in Renewable Energy for Rural Areas. This Funding Facility exclusively focuses on rural electrification projects, particularly on those related to renewable energies in African member countries. It covers (i) new rural electrification projects using the Reverse Linkage modality and agreed upon amongst IsDB and ONEE; and (ii) existing projects on rural energy access that need capacity development.
For eligible projects under the programme, the project must be part of the country's rural electrification programme and/or part of the country's electricity sector master plan, and preferably contributing to beneficiaries’ long-term low carbon and clean energy strategy and plan.
In terms of replicability of the approach, the model has been implemented in four countries and has proven to be successful in actualising the goal of increased energy access, deployment of renewables and fostering cross-border collaborations.
In term of successes recorded through the programme, rural electrification and the sustainable development of rural communities has been investigated extensively, and it has been shown that there is an evident relationship between them. Rural electrification can act as enabler, facilitator, and driver for sustainable development. Indeed, rural electrification has provided extended benefits to rural populations in health, education, and income, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The programme is unique in that it is an initiative for the South from resources and expertise from the South.
The success of the programme is rooted in the efficient and effective tripartite collaboration among IsDB (facilitator), ONEE (expertise provider) and the beneficiary countries. Cross-country lessons from beneficiary countries in the region also contributed towards the overall success of the programme.
The programme has multiple wins including directly contributing to SDGs 7, 13 and 17. In addition to its direct benefits, the programme also promotes numerous benefits through South-South and Triangular Cooperation, concurrently addressing beneficiaries’ development needs, protecting our planet, increasing adoption of renewable technologies, promoting knowledge transfer and fostering cross-country partnership and collaboration for development.
Key Development Results:
- The increased installed capacity of renewable energy by 14%, from 15 MW in 2015 to 17.43 MW in 2021.
- Increased electricity access rate through renewable energy in rural areas, from 18% in 2015 to 19.5% by 2021.
- Electrification of 24 remote villages in Segou Region, with about 35,000 inhabitants.
- The increased installed capacity of energy by 2.4%, from 124 MW in 2015.
- The increased installed capacity of renewable energy, from 0% to 2.4%.
- Increased electricity access rate through renewable energy in rural areas, from 20% in 2015 to 36% by 2025.
- Reduce CO2 emission by 2,304 tons annually.
- Increase generating capacity by 5.1 MW through installed Solar PV,
- Increase access to reliable and affordable electricity in rural areas, from 6% to 7% (4326 households and 1385 economic activities).
- 17,500 rural households and 1,500 socio-economic activities connected.
- Enhanced capacity of executing agency staff (ANPER) on renewable energy.
- Increase electricity access rate through renewable energy in rural areas, from 1% in 2017 to 20% in 2021.
- Increased energy generation by 9.3 MWp from solar PV installed