Engie Energy Access has signed a €10 million loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support the deployment of large-scale off-grid solar installations in Benin. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Africa Energy Forum (AEF) 2022 held in Brussels.
EIB has announced to provide the loan that will enable Engie to deploy high-quality 107,000 solar home systems (SHS) in rural areas of Benin. The lender said the funding provided in local currency would accelerate clean energy solutions in the country and improve access to electricity for 643,000 Beninese people.
The solar home systems include solar panels and battery storage systems to be sold on Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) basis, at a rate of less than $0.20 per day. The customers of the solar home systems can pay back the cost in the West Africa CFA franc using mobile banking.
Ambroise Fayolle, EIB’s Vice President, said the off-grid solar deployment will enable access to electricity for more than half a million people across Benin for the first time. The solar home systems will reduce the usage of fossil fuels and help families to save money.
“Unlocking sustainable, economic, and social development through off-grid solar is key for Africa’s future and to reduce the impact of global energy shocks, The EIB is pleased to back this project in Benin,” Fayolle commented.
Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO of Engie Energy Access CEO, mentioned that over the last few years, the private players in energy sector have developed off-grid solutions such as solar home systems, micro, and mini-grids which have demonstrated to be sustainable and economical solutions to reach universal electrification by 2030.
Huart also said their partnership with the EIB in Benin will provide affordable PAYGO systems to the rural population of the country, giving access to cheaper solar energy-based electrification and financial empowerment. Their sustainable integrated business model is now serving 1.5 million customers, impacting the lives of over 7 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to World Bank’s data, only 18.2% of the rural population of Benin has access to reliable electricity. By scaling up off-grid solar energy solutions in the country, the agreement between Engie and EIB will provide economic, educational, and health opportunities for households, small business holders, and entrepreneurs who are not connected to the electricity grid.
The new cooperation in Benin follows EIB’s previous support for Engie to deploy off-grid solar installations in Uganda. EIB’s streamlined support for African off-grid energy investment has also backed solar energy projects in Mozambique, Chad, the DRC, and Comoros.