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Residents of Amagba community, Benin, the Edo State capital, were excited and grateful to the Benin branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers for donating solar street lights spanning a distance of 420 metres on Emwinmadomwan Street.
Two and a half years after Oikocredit invested in the off-grid enterprise Weziza, we look at how better access to electricity is supporting economic development in West Africa. New mini-grids have created a positive impact for more than 2,500 households and 15,000 people.
In the Kalalé District of Benin, West Africa, basic health services are hard to come by. Historically, a lack of electrical infrastructure in this region has meant no power to pump clean water or refrigerate vaccines. That has now changed due to a recently completed project by the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF).
In Benin, there are many rural localities that are not yet electrified. In these and even in those that are already electrified, the use of electricity for cooking food is non-existent. Cooking meals in rural areas is still done with firewood fetched from bushes miles from their village mostly by women.
The African Development Bank has awarded Benin a total loan of €164.25 million ($178,740,956) to improve urban service delivery and build climate-resilient infrastructure to deal with flooding caused by climate change.
The idea is it should be a pilot for regulated off-grid electrificiation in Benin, part of a region that historically has failed to capture its huge renewable resources because of inadequate investment. The project to provide electricity in 12 rural localities, including 3 MWh of battery capacity that will supply more than 5,000 homes / businesses.
Solar energy is excellent for rural health centers. However, the “operation and maintenance” of this electricity access is often neglected or less taken into account in structuring projects in Benin. Several organizations are pooling their skills in order to ensure the monitoring of solar systems installed in hospitals via digital technology.

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