World Bank Group Launches “Scaling Solar” to Create Market for Solar Power in Africa

The World Bank Group has announced the launch of Scaling Solar at the Powering Africa: Summit in Washington DC, a gathering of African ministries, utility companies and the international power community to discuss progress and initiatives to increase access to energy across Africa. Scaling Solar aims to create a viable market for private solar power projects in Africa that will help governments increase the supply of energy for millions of residential and commercial consumers across the continent. 

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Scaling Solar reduces the development time, and uncertainty for bidders and investors, while lowering tariffs for utilities, which ultimately benefits consumers. 

“The World Bank Group is committed to promoting sustainable universal access to modern energy in Africa, and Scaling Solar is a key step towards attaining this goal” said Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice President for Global Client Services. “By quickly delivering affordable electricity to previously unreached populations, significant progress can be made on other development goals.”   

Africa has some of the world’s most abundant solar resources, yet more than a third of the population lives without electricity. Investors developing private solar projects in Africa are often deterred by a variety of obstacles, including the unique features and structures of the different markets, high transaction costs, heavily negotiated agreements, and high perceived risk and cost of capital. As a result, the region continues to struggle with slow, relatively expensive and ineffective solar development, which impedes access to electricity.

Large-scale photovoltaic solar power can be quickly and economically developed to increase the supply of electricity to national grids and improve the reliability of power services for households and businesses. Scaling Solar provides a straightforward package to help countries determine the size and location of projects, then auction them competitively to developers. The initiative combines World Bank guarantees, MIGA’s investment guarantees, and IFC financing to mobilize privately funded solar projects that are connected to the grid.  A simplified process and suite of contract templates significantly speeds this process to enable initial electricity production to begin within two years of initiating an engagement.   

“The countries we work with in Africa to support the development of solar energy look to the World Bank Group for our full suite of services – from technical knowledge and innovation to guarantees and financing,” said Anita Marangoly George, World Bank Senior Director for the Energy and Extractives Global Practice. “Through Scaling Solar, we are able to respond nimbly and effectively to this growing area of demand.” 

Scaling Solar builds on the World Bank Group’s experience in promoting small and larger-scale solar power development in emerging economies around the world and on South Africa’s successful Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program (REIPP). Scaling Solar will lower the cost of solar by helping governments to procure solar power competitively and enhance the provision of sustainable energy in Africa.   

“This initiative offers a framework that allows countries to rapidly and efficiently mobilize private capital into solar projects with high development impact without having to start from scratch,” added Edith P. Quintrell, MIGA’s Director of Operations. 

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