Piloting a new financing model to scale energy access in Sierra Leone
18 Jan 2023

Following the successful commissioning of their Sierra Leone Mini grid project which has connected over 13,000 homes and businesses to clean energy, PIDG company InfraCo Africa and PowerGen Renewable Energy (PowerGen) have announced that they are collaborating to roll out further mini-grids in the country. InfraCo Africa has committed up to US$1.2m to the new initiative which will form part of a wider programme in Sierra Leone by the Universal Energy Facility (UEF). The new project is expected to deliver circa 1,660 new connections across eight sites, providing first-time connections for homes and businesses.

Established to incentivise developers to increase the speed and scale at which clean energy access is achieved across sub-Saharan Africa, the UEF is a multi-donor results-based finance (RBF) facility managed by Sustainable Energy for All. It seeks to accelerate progress aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) and the Paris Agreement.1 The UEF is operating across a number of subSaharan countries. In this instance, the project will benefit from grant funding from the UEF on a perconnection basis.

InfraCo Africa’s Asset Manager Amine Amar, currently leading the Sierra Leone Mini-Grid project, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our strong relationship with PowerGen as we develop and deliver clean energy access for more communities in Sierra Leone. Having commissioned mini grids in forty communities which now serve over 13,000 customers, we can clearly see the impact that access to energy has for businesses, households and clinics in rural Sierra Leone.” He continued, “As we seek to expand these benefits to more customers, we are excited to be doing so as part of the UEF programme. We hope that we can help to demonstrate the viability of the RBF mechanism in the minigrid space and subsequently, the UEF’s potential in Sierra Leone and across sub-Saharan
Africa to deliver SDG7 whilst supporting global efforts to reach a net zero carbon economy.”

InfraCo Africa and PowerGen have been working together in Sierra Leone since 2019, rolling out solar hybrid mini grids across the south and east of the country as part of the country-wide Rural Renewable Energy Project (REPP) As the RREP draws to a close, the Government of Sierra Leone remains committed to the country’s growing off-grid energy sector.

PowerGen’s Country Manager for Sierra Leone, Hassan Suma, said: “PowerGen is excited to be working with InfraCo Africa and SEforAll as part of the UEF’s results-based financing programme. We support the UEF’s mandate to increase energy access through minigrid connections, as we have seen first-hand the positive impact a solar minigrid connection can have on households and the community at large, including improvements in education, healthcare and increased economic activity.” He continued, “We hope to work with the UEF to further expand our services to some of the hardest to reach areas, to deliver reliable solar electricity to previously off-grid areas, and to continue to be the leading renewable energy utility company of Sierra Leone.”

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, said “The Universal Energy Facility will help improve electricity access in communities across Sierra Leone. Mini grids supported by the facility will power households and businesses, creating jobs and economic growth within these communities.”

PowerGen and InfraCo Africa will draw on their experience of delivering mini grids in rural and remote locations to high standards of health, safety, environmental and social governance, with the construction of the first UEF-supported sites expected to commence in March 2023.

Notes to Editors
● In 2020, Sierra Leone had a rural electrification rate of just 4.8%,3 one of the lowest in subSaharan Africa.
● The Government of Sierra Leone’s (GoSL) National Renewable Energy Action Plan4 recognises the potential of off-grid solutions to address the electricity needs of the country’s rural population where the economies of grid deployment are prohibitive.
● Following the impact of the Ebola virus on Sierra Leone’s people and economy, the President’s Recovery Priorities5
include access to energy.
● More information about the project can be found here:
● InfraCo Africa’s support for Bumbuna Hydro II project in Sierra Leone is detailed here.

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) PIDG is an innovative infrastructure project developer and investor which mobilises private investment in sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and south and south-east Asia. PIDG investments promote socio-economic development within a just transition to net zero emissions, combat poverty and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

PIDG delivers its ambition in line with its values of opportunity, accountability, safety, integrity and impact. Since 2002, PIDG has supported 190 infrastructure projects to financial close which provided an estimated 220 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Germany and the IFCwww.pidg.org

InfraCo Africa: InfraCo Africa is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and seeks to alleviate poverty by mobilising investment into sub-Saharan infrastructure projects. It does this by investing directly into early-stage projects and by providing project development leadership. Through its investments arm, InfraCo Africa can also provide equity to close a financing gap and start construction or fund innovative solutions that need support to scale-up, to pilot new products or enter new markets. InfraCo Africa is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom (through FCDO), the Netherlands (through DGIS) and Switzerland (through SECO). To find out more visit: www.infracoafrica.com

InfraCo Africa is supported by

PowerGen: Founded in 2011, PowerGen is a renewable energy and micro-grid company with offices in five African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Benin, and Nigeria) and employs over one hundred full-time staff. PowerGen has connected over 60,000 people to smart, clean micro-grids and is working to build the energy system of the future in Africa through such grids. PowerGen is a founding member of the Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association (AMDA) and serves on its board. To find out more visit: https://www.powergenrenewable-energy.com

SE4All Universal Energy Facility: The Universal Energy Facility (UEF) is a multi-donor results-based finance (RBF) facility established to significantly speed up and scale up energy access across Sub-Saharan Africa, in line with SDG7 and the Paris Agreement. The UEF provides incentive payments to eligible organizations deploying energy solutions and providing verified end-user electricity connections (including mini-grids and stand-alone solar systems) and clean cooking solutions based on pre-determined standards. To find out more visit: https://www.seforall.org/results-based-financing/universal-energy-facility

For more information please contact:
Lorna McNae, Communications Manager, InfraCo Africa