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Three energy players have launched a joint venture named Les Soleils du Bénin to improve electrification in rural areas of Benin. The newly launched project has a portfolio of 12 solar mini-grids that be deployed in one year in 12 villages in the country
The joint venture is launched by the investment platform NEoT Off-grid Africa (NOA), GDS International, the subsidiary of the French group Générale du Solaire, and the electricity access provider African Renewable Energy Systems & Solutions (ARESS).
The total generation capacity of the 12 mini-grids will be 1.7 MWp, coupled with a total battery storage capacity of 3 MWh. The overall cost of the project is estimated at €8.5 million.
The solar mini-grids project is being developed under a project called the MCA-Benin II Off Grid Clean Energy Facility (OCEF). The facility is set up by the Millennium Challenge Account-Benin II with the aim of increasing electricity access for the unserved populations in rural and peri-urban areas of Benin.
The combined expertise of the project partners will enable them to create autonomous and connected solar mini-grids intended to improve the access to electricity for public infrastructures, SMEs, communities, and households. According to the partners, the mini-grids will help in the electrification of 5,000 rural households and businesses.
Idris Tayebi, Director of NEoT Offgrid Africa, said this MCA-Benin II program, in collaboration with local authorities in Benin, provides a structured regulatory framework to promote private investment. The initiative will give rise to other electrification programs using decentralized solar energy for isolated or landlocked regions in West Africa.
Daniel Bour, President of the Générale du Solaire Group, mentioned the project as a unique way to deploy solar energy solutions quickly to meet the needs of local populations and also tackle the challenges of climate change.
Léonide Michael Sinsin, MD of ARESS, said, the innovative project will help to strengthen their footprint in the West Africa region. The project will serve as a great opportunity for Benin to reduce inequalities and reinforce the attractiveness of its new energy regulatory framework.