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Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI)

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) low level of household electrification is well documented. Less than 10% of Sub-Saharan rural households have access to electricity and the overall access rate is below 25%. The causes are multiple and range from economic impediments and lack of funding to sub-optimal policies and electrification program designs. One major obstacle is that it is difficult for SSA practitioners to obtain practical and timely knowledge on how to overcome existing economic, technical, institutional and political barriers to electrification in their day-to-day work. Even where laws, regulations and necessary institutions are in place, relevant and recent operational experiences and techniques are not easily accessible.


The objective of the three year Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI) project is to create and sustain a living body of practical knowledge and a network of SSA practitioners in the area of design and implementation of rural, peri-urban and urban on-grid and off-grid electrification programs. Emphasis is placed on how to overcome time and cost barriers by acquiring and developing practical information and disseminating this information in a user friendly form through simple and sustainable channels of communication. The principal target audience is African practitioners. These include individuals who work for electrification agencies and funds, government ministries, regulators and state, community or privately-owned utilities.


This project is being implemented in partnership with other organizations (both local and international) with an emphasis on local knowledge sharing. The key partners for Phase I included the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), the Africa Renewable Energy Access Program (AFREA), the EUEI Partnership Dialogue Facility, the Forum of African Energy Ministers (FEMA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the DGIS/BMZ-funded Energizing Development Program (EnDev) and the World Bank. Involvement of other organizations for the upcoming activities will be actively pursued.


AEI Dakar Workshop Proceedings: Institutional Approaches to Electrification

Minister for Energy Welcomes World Bank Support (Interview)

Innovative Financing Mechanism to Access Electricity at the Village Level

Energy Practitioners Share Knowledge to Increase Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa


Dana Rysankova,
Program Manager, Africa Renewable Energy Access Program (AFREA)

Raluca Golumbeanu
Coordinator Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI)

Marjorie K. Araya
Web Content

Douglas Barnes,
Senior Consultant

Besnik Hyseni

Kilian Reiche,
Senior Consultant

Bernard Tenenbaum
Senior Consultant


The project is being organized in two phases using complementary approaches to produce and disseminate information:

Phase I was launched with a kick-off Workshop in Maputo from June 9-12, 2009 for practitioners, where ground level techniques related to rural, peri-urban and urban electrification were presented and discussed. More than 170 individuals from 42 countries attended the workshop. Included among the attendees were 130 representatives from African ministries of energy and power, local and national utilities, energy and electricity regulatory entities, rural electrification agencies, research centers and non-governmental organizations representing 32 African nations. The content and format of the workshop were developed over a six month period with the active assistance of an Advisory Committee consisting of electrification practitioners from seven African countries. The workshop was unique in that it was not limited to standard 20-25 minute power point presentations by outside experts followed by brief periods for audience questions. Instead, it used a mix of formats to maximize discussions among participants. These different formats included: 50 presentations by experts and practitioners given in 12 plenary sessions, 17 breakout discussion sessions designed to allow participants to pursue follow up questions and 3 structured half day clinics for hands-on and in-depth follow up activities. In addition, more than 20 participants took the time before the workshop began to create posters which described the successes and failures of their own electrification projects. These posters were displayed and discussed informally in the hallways outside the workshop meeting rooms.

The workshop achieved the following: (i) share practical information on ground level implementation issues relating to rural, peri-urban and urban electrification; (ii) create a network of electrification practitioners; (iii) refine the topic areas where SSA practitioners face the most constrains and that are of greatest interest to them; and (iv) define the Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI) follow up activities and the most appropriate long-term information dissemination mechanisms.

The workshop received funding from Energy Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), the Africa Renewable Energy Access Program (AFREA), the EUEI Partnership Dialogue Facility, the Forum of African Energy Ministers, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the World Bank.

The attendees were almost all electrification practitioners. The rationale for limiting attendance to practitioners was to ensure that the focus would be on “day-to-day” real world implementation issues. Or as one participant put it: “most conferences fly at 35,000 feet but here we were down at ground level.”

Last, as the agenda of the event shows, the number of issues and topics covered was intentionally broad. The workshop was intentionally designed to be the equivalent of an “intellectual buffet.” The rationale for “going wide” was to give participants an opportunity to sample from a large number of implementation issues. This allowed them to choose issues that were genuinely relevant for their own work as well as new and unfamiliar issues so as to be able to give informed recommendations on possible follow-up activities of the AEI project in years 2 and 3. On their own initiative, a number of participants convened and conducted unscheduled follow up sessions after the formal workshop ended on access subsidies, microfinance, carbon finance, prepaid meters, and alternative service and maintenance models for ongrid/offgrid electrification.

The impact of the workshop was perhaps best summed up in the words of one individual participant: “The topics discussed touched on issues that relate to most of the projects being implemented in Africa today. The workshop was very enlighting. Sharing experiences with other practitioners “opens” up one’s mind, such that as we plan/execute projects, we can have reference based on experience from other practitioners.”

Information on the Maputo Workshop can be found under the following links: Presentations, Proceedings and Agenda.

Phase II, building on the workshop will create long-term dissemination mechanisms such as a living Internet Web Site with an interactive component that allows participants to share information on issues of interest (4-page series); to interact via a blog; and access an archive of operational documents for practical use. It also produces technical papers on key implementation topics. While the focus is on Sub-Sahara African experiences, other international experiences are illustrated if they are found to be relevant.


Promoting Low Carbon Energy in Africa through Carbon Finance (April 17th, 2012; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

The workshop will examine how the latest regulatory developments, namely the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board (CDM EB) guidelines related to Program of Activities (PoA), Standardized Baselines and Suppressed demand could foster project development in the African clean energy sector and leverage carbon finance as a way to initiate and scale up new development initiatives.

The workshop is organized by the World Bank Africa Energy Unit together with the World Bank Institute (WBI), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Risoe Centre, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The workshop will be followed by an Africa Carbon Forum (April 18th-20th, 2012; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). The forum will be a unique platform to learn about recent developments both in the climate change negotiations and practice developments, as well as an opportunity for matchmaking and networking between low carbon projects developers and investors, donors and carbon buyers.

World Bank Energy Days / Sustainable Development Network Forum 2012 (February 21-March 1, 2012; Washington, DC)

As part of Energy Days 2012, in the context of the two week-long Sustainable Development Network Forum at the World Bank, the AEI organized two panel sessions:

Private sector and Electrification: Can private sector contribute more to scaling-up access?

This objective of this panel session was to illustrate the typical challenges faced by private sector players trying to increase access to electrification in least developed countries and to discuss the complementary approaches that governments and the private sector can leverage to achieve scale up targets. The session started with an introduction of the panelists’ specific countries and projects, namely Burkina Faso, Guinea, India, and the KfW energy projects, followed by two rounds of discussion questions, which addressed i) the real-life challenges faced by the private sector in participating to increase access to electricity and ii) the lessons learned from private sector-led electrification initiatives on how to scale up access and replicate models in other countries.

Paying for Results: The Experience of RBF and OBA in Energy

This panel was organized as a collaboration between the AEI,Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid, GPOBA and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, ESMAP and had a three-fold objective: i) to introduce the concepts of results-based financing (RBF) and output-based aid (OBA); ii) to provide a knowledge/practice exchange platform among practitioners on challenges and opportunities raised by RBF and OBA in the energy sector; iii) to spur a discussion on the application of the RBF and OBA approaches. The session consisted of RBF and OBA theory, and how those differ from the input-based approach, and the practitioners’ take on the challenges of RBF and OBA implementation in the energy sector. Case studies represented by panelists included: Ethiopia, Liberia, Uganda and Bangladesh.

The objective of Energy Days 2012 at the World Bank was to highlight challenges, discuss trade-offs and explore solutions that will help the global development community and private sector partners to achieve universal access to modern energy services.

Practitioners’ Workshop on Institutional Approaches to Electrification (November 14-16, 2011; Dakar, Senegal)

The AEI Workshop in Dakar focused on ground level implementation of different institutional approaches to electrification, with particular focus on the experiences of Rural Energy Agencies/Rural Energy Funds (REAs/REFs) across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It brought together about 230 participants, representing REAs/REFs, ministries of energy, regulatory agencies and power utilities. One of the main objectives of the workshop was to encourage greater practical knowledge sharing among REAs/REFs in the SSA region by comparing their different approaches and documenting early lessons learned from their operations, as well as examine how REAs/REFs interact with national utilities, ministries and regulators. Download the proceedings here and learn more about the Workshop here.

This workshop was co-organized by the Rural Electrification Agency of Senegal (ASER), the European Union Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEI PDF), and the Africa Energy Unit of the World Bank through support from the Africa Renewable Energy Access Program (AFREA) and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).

Practitioners’ Workshop on the Productive Use of Electricity (September 20-22, 2011; Nairobi, Kenya)

This workshop is organized by the EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEI PDF) in cooperation with the Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI). Productive use of electricity (PUE) know-how and project implementation lessons are rarely shared among practitioners, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). When does PUE promotion make sense? How shall PUE be fostered, if at all? Based on the impact analysis on PUE that GIZ, ESMAP and AEI conducted as well as the discussions at the AEI Maputo workshop, GIZ and EUEI PDF prepared and field-tested a Productive Use of Electricity Manual for Practitioners. The workshop in Nairobi will be structured upon this manual and will work with practitioners from sub-Saharan Africa over three days on concrete PUE planning and implementation steps.

Symposium on Small PV-Applications, Rural Electrification and Commercial Use
(June 6-7, 2011; University of Applied Sciences Ulm, Germany)

This second annual symposium is dedicated to small, off-grid electricity supply with PV. The focus of the symposium was on description of existing markets and state of the art technology of small PV applications that can deliver light to remote rural homes or electricity for remote infrastructure equipment in developing countries. The AEI has supported both the first and the second symposiums. The following documents are accessible as follows: AEI proceedings and the symposium agenda.

World Bank Energy Week 2011 (March 14-16, 2011; Washington, DC)

Two discussion panels were organized by the AEI for the World Bank Group’s Energy Week 2011. The panels explored the topics of Institutional Approaches to Electrification and Innovative Financing for Rural Electrification. Special attention was given to best ways of promoting "complementarities" and "synergies” between these different delivery models.

After a brief introduction to different institutional approaches to electrification, electrification practitioners presented their models (see also Working Document). The unique three part Peruvian subsidy delivery program was described as was Mali's rural electrification program, which has created more than 50 isolated diesel fired mini-grids. Tanzania is successfully encouraging the participation of local entrepreneurs in the rural/renewable energy development via its Rural Energy Agency (REA) financing mechanisms. The utility led electrification approach of Kenya and Ethiopia was also explored as was the Bangladeshi rural electrification cooperatives system, modeled after the US cooperative system.

For the second panel on facilitating access to financing for renewable energy development, the panel speakers presented different innovative approaches including performance subsidies designed by Energizing Development/GIZ, a credit line for rural/renewable energy development and carbon finance implemented by the Rural Energy Agency in Tanzania, a partial guarantee program for promoting energy efficiency in the Philippines, and microfinance for solar energy development in Uganda.

Energy Week at the Word Bank is a three-day annual event, which gathers senior-level policymakers and practitioners engaged in the strategic issues of energy and development to explore potential solutions to global energy challenges.

Seminar on Small Power Producers in Tanzanian Villages (November 19, 2010; Washington, DC)

This knowledge sharing seminar was organized by the AEI and the World Bank Africa Energy Unit (AFTEG), cosponsored by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). The aim of the seminar was to share lessons on how Tanzania created clear, credible and light handed regulatory systems to promote grid and off-grid generation of electricity by small power producers. The World Bank and ESMAP assisted the government of Tanzania in setting up a regulatory framework to promote renewable energy, which includes: standardized power purchase agreements, tariffs for small power projects for both the main grid and isolated grids, simplified regulatory rules for small power projects, and comprehensive guidelines for project developers. The Energy Development and Access Project (TEDAP) aims to simplify Tanzania’s regulatory system to improve the quality and efficiency of electricity services, and increase access to electricity.

Practitioners' Documents

An Archive of Operational Documents for Electrification

“There is no need for each of us to re-invent the wheel.”

This statement was made by a participant at the June 2009 Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI) Maputo Workshop upon learning that electrification officials in a neighboring country had developed guidelines and rules to promote electrification by small power producers that he could use in his own work. And this was not an isolated comment. Many African government and utility officials at the workshop said that they do not have good, systematic access to operational documents that can help them in their day-to-day operational work. In follow up discussions, it became clear that the basic problem is not so much lack of general access to information but rather timely access to documents that can have immediate and direct operational uses in both grid and off-grid electrification.

Given this need, AEI, in collaboration with PPP in Infrastructure Resource Center for Contracts, Laws and Regulation (PPPIRC), has created an online archive of operational documents for practitioners. The purpose of the archive is to provide convenient access to practical documents that can have immediate operational value for African officials responsible for promoting different forms of electrification. The initial core of the archive are the 15 documents distributed on a CD-ROM to the Maputo workshop participants.

The key features of the archive are:

1. It will be limited to operational documents rather than reports and studies.

2. The documents are intended to be used as sample documents. Users must review the documents carefully to determine whether a particular document is appropriate for their country’s circumstances.

3. Users are urged to contribute other documents that they think will be of general interest to electrification practitioners.

4. The archives will initially be located in the Rural Electrification section of the PPIRC website, a World Bank maintained website that contains a large collection of legal, operational and regulatory documents relating to public and private partnerships in various infrastructure industries.

Questions or suggestions for new documents should be directed to Bernard Tenenbaum.

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