Kenya Launches New Platform to Accelerate Mini-Grid Industry

Published Apr. 13, 2018

By Babalwa Bungane for ESI Africa

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The Africa Mini-grid Developers Association (AMDA) today announced its official establishment, aiming to combine private sector innovation, efficiency, and customer service with public sector support to help end energy poverty across Africa.

The association is composed of developers operating AC mini-grids that ensure power reliability of at least 20 hours per day. These developers include; Engie, Ensol, Husk Power Systems, Jumeme Rural Power Supply, PowerGen Renewable Energy, Powerhive, Rafiki Power, Redavia, Rift Valley Energy, RVE.SOL and SteamaCo.

AMDA currently has chapters in Kenya and Tanzania, where member companies have built 430 kilometers of transmission lines, and renewable generation to serve over 11,000 connections, including households, schools, health clinics, micro-enterprise and agriculture.

The association is in the process of setting up its next chapter in Nigeria, which will include seven additional local developers, and has so far received interest from three other countries.

“AMDA’s vision is to see 100% of Africa electrified before 2030, and this will require utilities to incorporate new and innovative technologies, with mini-grids playing a central role,” said Jessica Stephens, AMDA’s global coordinator.

“Mini-grids can deliver more connections per dollar, can be deployed more rapidly than traditional grid infrastructure and play an important role in stimulating local economic opportunities and creating jobs.”

Unified voice for mini-grid industry

By providing a unified voice for the industry, AMDA aims to partner with governments and utilities to build next generation grids based on the needs of both industry and communities.

“AMDA will share knowledge and feedback with policy-makers, regulators and investors, while also representing the voice of the customer, which is currently under-represented on the issue of energy access,” the association stated.

AMDA is supported by the Shell Foundation, the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development.

“Mini-grids offer the quickest, most cost-effective way to bring 24-hour power to large parts of Africa, while other areas will be better served by standalone home systems or national grid extension,” said Richard Gomes, director, market development at Shell Foundation.

Gomes continued: “Unlocking public and private capital to accelerate the growth of this sector is therefore critical to meet the continent’s energy needs.”

Distributed energy solutions

Amadou Hott, the African Development Bank’s Vice-President for power, energy, climate and green growth: “Green mini-grids are an essential part of the bank’s New Deal for Energy, which envisions 75 million new connections coming from distributed energy solutions. Through our various initiatives, including the Green Mini-Grid Market Development Program, the AfDB looks forward to working closely with AMDA to create the necessary conditions for scaling the sector, and energy access, across Africa.”

Also commenting was Prosper Magali, director, projects and business development at Ensol: “Rural electrification is successful when the needs of remote communities are fully integrated into energy access solutions. The members of AMDA are committed to partnering with these communities to not only provide the safest, most reliable and highest quality service, but to ensure a low-carbon future that builds economic opportunity, resilience, and gender equity.”

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