Benin ranks among the countries that have benefited from the rationalised support of the European Investment Bank (EIB) for off-grid energy investments on the African continent. The country has just received a loan of EUR 10 million (more than CFAF 6.5 billion) for the deployment of 107,000 high-quality domestic solar installations.
More than half a million people in Benin will be connected to electricity under the new EIB initiative – ENGIE Energy Access. ENGIE Energy Access is a leader in solar energy and the European Investment Bank, one of the world’s largest donors of renewable energy. Thus, 107,000 high-quality domestic solar installations will be deployed in the country. Domestic solar installations include solar panels and electricity is stored on a battery; it is paid for in several installments (“pay as you go”). These schemes are expected to improve access to clean energy for 643,000 people. According to Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, the aim is to improve access to clean and affordable energy to fight poverty, create jobs and empower women and girls. “The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the scaling up of off-grid solar energy deployment in West Africa through this new partnership with ENGIE. More than half a million people in Benin will be connected to electricity for the first time, making it easier for them to communicate, light up and cook, “he said. He added: “This deployment of solar home systems will also reduce the use of kerosene, charcoal, candles and generators, which will reduce pollution, limit the risk of accidents and help families save money. “Fostering sustainable economic and social development through off-grid solar energy is key to Africa’s future and to mitigating the impact of global energy shocks, and the EIB is pleased to support this project in Benin.”
For its part, Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO of ENGIE Energy Access, pointed out that in recent years, the private sector has developed off-grid solutions such as solar home systems, micro-grids and mini-grids that have clearly proven to be sustainable and cost-effective solutions to ensure universal access to electricity by 2030. “Through the use of digital tools and the strong penetration of mobile payments in sub-Saharan Africa, we are selling access to energy products on credit to make them affordable. It is clear that the combination of capital from private investors and impact funds managed by a multilateral organization is necessary to achieve the amount of financing required to implement the energy transition and achieve SDG 7 in Africa. ” According to this new partnership with the European Investment Bank, it will provide ultra-affordable PAYGO solutions to villagers across the country, giving them access to clean solar energy and financial empowerment. This new cooperation in Benin follows EIB support for ENGIE’s investment in the deployment of off-grid solar energy in Uganda. The new system aims to meet the last mile challenge of providing electricity to remote populations.
New opportunities in rural areas
The implementation of a multi-payment system (PAYGO) will allow families who would not be able to pay the initial costs of domestic solar installations to reimburse the cost of the equipment over the years at less than 20 cents USD per day. In addition, thanks to this new loan from the European Investment Bank, equipment purchased in US dollars will be able to be repaid in local currency. “The European Union is committed to supporting sustainable economic and social development through Benin. This new cooperation initiative between the European Investment Bank and ENGIE demonstrates the added value of European engagement with our African partners to transform access to energy and combat climate change. The exploitation of renewable energy through private sector engagement and innovative off-grid solar technology, combined with productive use of electricity in rural areas, is a direct and concrete result of the European Union’s Green Deal for Africa, “said Sylvia Hartleif, EU Ambassador to Benin. According to her, the initiative will open up new opportunities for more than half a million people across Benin and pave the way for the transition to clean energy, in line with the EU’s Global Gateway strategy.
Previously, currency fluctuations prevented populations without access to foreign exchange from benefiting from affordable clean energy sources. More than a million homes depend on polluting and inefficient kerosene or candle lighting, or increasingly expensive generators. By intensifying the deployment of off-grid solar technology in Benin, this new initiative will provide economic, social, educational and health opportunities for families and entrepreneurs who cannot be connected to the national electricity grid. Thanks to the new agreement, households, entrepreneurs and smallholders in Benin will be able to access electricity for their mobile phones, solar lighting, refrigeration, radio and television. This agreement will also allow farmers to sell their products, create new markets for traders and improve health.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and is owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
About ENGIE Energy Access
ENGIE Energy Access is the leading provider of Pay as you go (PAYGo) and mini-grid payment plans in Africa. The company develops innovative off-grid solar solutions for households, utilities and businesses, enabling customers and distribution partners to have access to clean and affordable energy. PAYGo home solar installations are financed through affordable payments (from USD 19 cents per day) and mini-grids promote economic development by enabling productive use of electricity and creating business opportunities for entrepreneurs in rural communities. With a workforce of more than 1,700, operations in nine African countries (Benin, Côte d ‘Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia), nearly 1.5 million customers and an impact on 7 million people so far, ENGIE Energy Access aims to impact 20 million lives in Africa by 2025.