IFC launches online platform to boost off-grid electrification in Africa

19 Dec 2016, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


Off-grid technologies and business models are emerging as part of solutions to closing the energy access gap.

An off-grid solar panel

The International Finance Corporation said today that it has launched an online tool to help develop the off-grid energy market in Sub Saharan Africa. The Washington D.C.-based multilateral lender said the tool – called the Off-Grid Market Opportunity Tool – draws on a database that will help companies, governments, development agencies, academics and civil society to better assess the potential market for off-grid energy solutions.

The database platform and tool, which can be accessed at https://energydata.info, builds on open geospatial data to provide a broad overview on markets for off-grid electrification based on several relevant parameters. The open source software allows users to improve on the tool’s functions by building on the code. Users can also produce more accurate results by exporting analyses generated by the tool and combining them with other data, the IFC said.

“This tool aims to help distributed energy service companies, or DESCOs, that are operating in the off-grid space in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Milagros Rivas, Global Head of IFC’s Cross-Cutting Advisory Solutions. “It is part of IFC’s ongoing efforts to support these companies, which are contributing to closing the energy gap in the region.”

With over a billion people globally lacking access to electricity, the off-grid technologies and business models are emerging as part of the solutions to closing the energy access gap. The IFC said the Off-Grid Market Opportunity Tool assesses market potential and provides data on characteristics and key attributes in different geographic regions, allowing project developers and policy-makers to scale up off-grid initiatives. The geographical focus of the tool is currently limited to Sub-Saharan Africa, and may be expanded in the future.

The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2040, about half of the 634 million people without access to electricity in rural Africa, will gain electricity access by the development of both mini-grids and off-grid energy systems.