Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) is projected by World Bank aiming at helping nineteen countries in Africa with the required support to foster a sustainable and scalable off-grid solar energy market to meet the electrification needs of the African uncovered populations under the Lighting Africa Program. Sierra Leon is amongst the nineteen countries to benefit from the program.
The project is expected to do away with the main barriers to attract private sectors participation in promoting off-grid solar electrification in the fifteen ECOWAS member nations with four other countries including Cameroon, Mauritius, Central African Republic and Chad. The project will be implemented by the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).
The first phase of the program will have a budget of $60 million, and it will focus on the regional market. That budget expenditure will include market assessment studies and the identification of policy barrier. The project will ensure provision of an entrepreneurship development facility, provision of seed funding to local tech entrepreneurs, and provision of incentives to attract investors through the provision of grants while reducing the risk from public institutions to the private electricity service providers.
The second phase will work on access to finance barriers for private entrepreneurs. The phase follows an intermediary financial approach and will be implemented through Regional Development Banks (RDBS). The RDBs will help in the management of credit which can be checked by commercial banks, microfinance institutions, debt funds and others.
Many people in the rural areas at Sierra Leone depend on small petrol or diesel generators and kerosene lamps for their lighting and energy needs. The people in those areas tend to spend more on the sources of energy than the ones in urban areas who use grid connections often with subsidized tariffs. The initiative is aimed at reducing consumer energy expenditures while improving the quality of energy services at the same time. The program will also avoid the health risks brought by smoke from burning kerosene and other unhealthy sources of energy.
The advancements in solar PV technologies, standalone off-grid solar now is in the best place to transform electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa and specifically to consumers who are far away from the grid network, and they cannot have access to light and power energy even within simple terms. The project also gives room to those who expect to get access to grid network in the coming years, can use the standalone solar system rather than using kerosene, and candles or living in darkness as they wait.