The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), with support from the Embassy of Sweden, today launched the Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies – sub-Saharan Africa (REACT SSA) competition in Monrovia, Liberia. This is a five-year program worth US $6.5 million that seeks to catalyse the private sector investment to increase access to energy and clean cooking solutions to the rural and peri-urban population in Liberia.
Energy access in Liberia is one of the lowest in the world. Grid electrification in Liberia stands at 9% with only 2% of the rural population connected to the national grid.
“Liberia is still recovering from the effects of war, where a lot of the infrastructure was damaged; this has negatively impacted our capacity to generate and distribute electricity to our citizens. Despite this, the government is committed to ensure that Liberians have access to the national grid and we hope to achieve this through increasing the connections done by the Liberia Electricity Corporation from 9% to 35% by 2030. The launch of the REACT SSA Liberia program is therefore timely and will complement the government’s efforts of increasing energy access in the country,” said, Hon. Gesler E. Murray, Minister for Mines and Energy.
The acute energy deficit in the country is met by self-generation and privately owned gasoline and diesel generators; about 5% of households in Liberia use a community generator, 4.4% have their own generator, 3.9% use vehicle batteries and the rest use other sources such as candles, kerosene and torches.
“With over 80% of the population in the dark or using expensive fossil fuels, an opportunity exists for the private sector to invest in renewable energy. REACT SSA seeks to catalyse private sector investment to promote and provide clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy solutions. The Embassy of Sweden believes that the REACT SSA program and other upcoming energy programs financed by Swede will help in bridging the challenge of access to energy in rural Liberia,” Ingrid Wettersqvist, Ambassador, Embassy of Sweden.
At US$0.39 per Kwh Liberia’s electricity tariff is one of the highest in Africa, a cost that is out of reach for many people in the rural areas. AECF has been instrumental in funding innovative business models that have been able to provide rural communities with affordable clean energy solution including solar home systems using the pay-as-you-go model; renewable energy solutions for productive use such as solar irrigation pumps; clean cooking solutions like Improved Cook Stoves, biogas, ethanol amongst others.
“Over the past eight years AECF has impacted the lives of many rural communities in sub-Sahara Africa. With our investment portfolio in renewable energy solutions we have transformed the livelihoods of over 6.6 million people and contributed to the generation of over 20 Mega Watts of clean energy. Our experience in Africa and the financing that we are providing in Liberia through REACT SSA will therefore incentivise businesses in Liberia to replicate models that have worked in other regions as well as attract businesses in advanced markets to come and replicate their models in a country like Liberia,” said Steve Tawia, AECF Director, Portfolio and Investments.
The REACT SSA Liberia competition will run from 24th September to 19th November 2018, with successful businesses accessing grant funding between US $100,000 and US $1.5M and technical assistance on a need basis. Companies interested should visit our website www.aecfafrica.org to apply.
About Sida/ Embassy of Sweden Liberia
Sweden International Development Agency (Sida) is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. Through our work and in cooperation with others, we contribute to implementing Sweden’s Policy for Global Development (PGU). We implement the Swedish development policy that aims to enable people living in poverty to improve their lives. Another part of our mission is reform cooperation with Eastern Europe. The third part of our assignment is to distribute humanitarian aid to people in need of assistance.
About the AECF
AECF is an Africa-based USD $356 million Enterprise Challenge Fund that works with the private sector on a risk sharing basis across 25 African countries to reduce poverty. It provides catalytic funding as grants or zero interest loans to private sector businesses that have a positive impact on the rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa. The fund awards grants and/or loans to businesses focused on agriculture, agribusiness, renewable energy and adaptation to climate change with the aim of improving household incomes and reducing rural poverty. The fund is supported by Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and United Kingdom governments, international financial institutions, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and IFAD.
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