The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) has signed its first agreement in Burkina Faso with Oolu Burkina Faso to support the scale-up of high-quality solar home systems for people living in rural areas of Burkina Faso and improve energy access in these areas.
The company will provide energy solutions and services, including various solar home systems and large standalone systems for residential, commercial and institutional customers in Burkina Faso. These solutions reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease indoor air pollution and increase the reliability of power supplies for customers in remote areas. The total value of the contract is EUR 2.5 million, with a total project budget of at least EUR 5 million.
“This first BGFA contract reinforces Sweden’s commitment to Burkina Faso and the importance of supporting the development of the country’s energy sector. Burkina Faso is beset by security problems and is experiencing difficult times. Over 60% of its young and dynamic population does not have access to electricity. The private sector plays an important role in helping the country achieve its ambitions, particularly with regard to access to sustainable energy. Mobilising financing through innovative mechanisms such as BGFA, will help to scale up affordable and sustainable energy solutions in the country,” commented Maria Sargren, Swedish Ambassador to Burkina Faso.
Oolu is a company that has been developing solar home systems for the African market since 2015 and is today active across six West African countries. The Burkina Faso subsidiary was established in 2018 and is the leading company in the country selling PAYGO-based renewable energy services. With the support of BGFA, Oolu will scale up its current business activities in Burkina Faso, aiming to establish over 28,000 additional subscriptions over a four-year period by providing solar home systems for lighting, mobile phone charging, TVs, fridges and freezers as well as power sources for commercial customers.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with BGFA to further scale up our business activities. In recent years, many communities in Burkina Faso have endured worsening economic, security and climate conditions. With the support from BGFA, we can improve people’s lives in these underserved communities by providing modern and renewable energy access at affordable rates, often for the very first time,” said Dan Rosa, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Oolu.
With the BGFA funding, Oolu will expand its operations across eight regions where it is already operating: le Centre, la Boucle du Mouhoun, les Cascades, les Hauts Bassins, le Sud Ouest, le Centre Est, le Centre Ouest and l’Est, as well as commence operations in four additional regions. It is estimated that the project will help to bring clean off-grid energy solutions and lighting equipment to over 27,600 households and over 560 businesses and institutions. In the long term this will enable a higher standard of education and create numerous new employment opportunities in the country.
“We are very pleased to announce our first project in Burkina Faso, which will support access to clean energy solutions in several regions across Burkina Faso and is estimated to benefit over 155,000 people,” commented Dennis Hamro-Drotz, Senior Programme Manager at Nefco.
The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa opened its first funding round in September 2020, in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia (BGFA1); it also opened two more funding rounds, in Mozambique (BGFA2) and Uganda (BGFA3), in spring 2021. The facility is currently concluding the first round of funding and, in addition to the initially announced contracted companies in Liberia and Zambia, further supported projects in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia are expected to be announced during spring 2022.
The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa is a multi-donor facility established and managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (Nefco). Nefco is an international financial institution based in Helsinki, Finland, focusing on environmental and climate investments. BGFA is implemented in partnership with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, working to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency solutions in developing countries.
The current EUR 107.6 million BGFA programme was established in 2019 on Sweden’s initiative through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Sweden contributes SEK 835 million (EUR 80 million) from the Swedish embassies in the target countries. It has since been developed by Nefco into a multi-donor programme. Denmark, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, joined the BGFA programme in December 2020 and is now providing DKK 117.5 million (EUR 15.8 million) to support the programme in Uganda. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution worth USD 4.5 million (approx. EUR 4 million) over three years to help operationalise the initiative and develop a pipeline of commercially viable projects within the framework of BGFA. Germany, through its development bank KfW, has joined the BGFA country programme for Zambia with a focus on mini-grids, providing EUR 7.5 million.