Solar mini-grids can get electricity to more Africans but regulators need to help
Of the oft-quoted 600 million Africans living without electricity across the continent, it is estimated about 150 million of them live within range of their local public grids but are still not connected.
The challenge is that as populations have grown particularly in rural areas, governments have not prioritized spending the hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly billions, needed to expand traditional power grids to more households.
Over the last couple of decades investors, NGOs, and innovators have been building solar-powered mini-grids to serve small communities in rural areas as a way to help close this gap. For example a mini-grid could consist of a platform with around 100 solar panels serving some 300 rural households which would typically be too expensive to extend the existing grid. Much of the private development has accelerated in the last three years, the Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA) says in a new study.
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