May 2018 How to electrify Africa?

CrossBoundary and Rockefeller partner to test innovations

More than 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa still do not have reliable electricity sources.

Just imagine: no dependable access to overnight lighting, labour-saving devices or technology!

But it's not just inconvenient - lack of access to clean fuels leads to indoor pollution resulting in millions of deaths. In fact, the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030.

So how to make that happen?

Well, Global Visionary Matthew Tilleard's CrossBoundary Energy has partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation to launch the Mini-Grid Innovation Lab for Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Lab estimates that at least 100 million of those people without access to electricity would be most cost-effectively served by mini-grids; these are self-sufficient electricity grids with their own power generation and storage capacities, that can autonomously serve households and businesses isolated from the main grid.  The Lab says they've also proved far more reliable in their tests, with 98% power reliability versus 47% for the main grid.

However, they have not yet been widely used in Africa as governments have not viewed them as a viable substitute to the main grid and this has deterred investors.

This is where the Lab comes in – they will test business solutions for mini-grids based in Africa with the aim of demonstrating their potential to policy makers and investors.

Gabriel Davies, Head of Energy Access, CrossBoundary said they would take a data-driven, approach to find answers: "Do mini-grids deliver power to the standard of the main grid? Do mini-grid customers use energy to increase their income? How do mini-grids integrate with the main grid? By partnering with developers, who are closest to the daily challenges of providing power to rural customers, we can answer these questions with real world data.”

Ashvin Dayal of The Rockefeller Foundation added: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Cross Boundary Group.  The ultimate goal of this effort is to equip governments, investors and developers to dramatically accelerate rural electrification in an integrated manner, unlocking new economic opportunities for millions of households".

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