While progress has been made in increasing access to electricity in Africa, population growth has also increased considerably and, therefore, more needs to be done to meet the needs of the millions of people on the continent who are still without access to electricity, says Pinsent Masons partner John Woolley.
Speaking at the Africa Infrastructure Conference, in Johannesburg, this week, he highlighted that there were a number of substantial World Bank-led offgrid projects in the process of procurement.
One such example is the $765-million Nigeria Electrification project, which is aimed at increasing access to electricity for households, education institutions and small, medium-sized and microenterprises.
The project is estimated to benefit about 2.5-million people and generate up to 3 000 MW of electricity through about 10 000 minigrid projects.
However, Woolley did warn that offgrid projects come with a number of challenges, including funding, regulatory and logistical challenges.
Further, there is the challenge of consumer awareness. Therefore, developers need to invest in educating the public about such projects.
Despite the challenges, the outlook for offgrid projects remains positive, with many European players contributing to the development of offgrid projects in Africa.