Solar mini-grid solutions grow in Africa

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The number of solar mini-grid projects on the continent is expected to increase significantly according to a recent report by clean energy consulting company Infinergia.

According to the report, titled Mini-grid for Village Electrification: Industry and Africa & Asia market analysis, there are over 2,000 mini-grids in Africa, with 40 percent of those accounted for by solar power.

The report further highlights that solar mini-grids are anticipated to scale to 16,000 sites in Africa by 2023.

With electrification still a concern in a number of African countries, mini-grids offer a cost-effective solution to the demand for rural electrification. Further, the mini-grid market could stimulate investment opportunities on the continent, with countries such as Nigeria already enjoying growth and profits in the mini-grid space.

Supporting this, The Rocky Mountain Institute and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group released a report in August titled, Minigrid Investment Report: Scaling the Nigeria Market. The report showed that mini-grids could help businesses tap into a revenue opportunity of up to $20 billion per year, with over 80 percent of Nigerian business owners citing electrification as their most significant challenge that could be solved through the high reliability and consistent quality of mini-grids.

“The Nigerian mini-grid space is ready to take off, and there is a huge opportunity for investment to scale the market,” Associate at Rocky Mountain Institute, Sachi Graber said, adding that mini-grids could drive a significant economic change in rural Nigeria.

Through its flexible and cost-effective power supply model, mini-grids are increasingly being praised as an energy access champion on the continent and beyond, with a design that considers small-scale environments and remote areas.

Moreover, in Africa, the mini-grid solution grows in strength as a welcome alternative and forms part of the roadmap to the realization of access to electricity for all.