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Africa Renewable Energy Access (AFREA) Program

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The Africa Renewable Energy and Access program (AFREA) was established in 2009 to help meet energy needs and widen access to energy services in Sub-Saharan African countries in an environmentally responsible way. AFREA was set up through a US$28.875 million contribution from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Clean Energy Investment Framework Multi-Donor Trust Fund (CEIF-MDTF) of the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).

AFREA funds support the implementation of the Africa Energy Unit (AFTEG) strategy and its clients, through analytical and advisory activities, while also providing recipient-executed technical assistance and investment grants that help speed up the deployment of renewable energy systems regionally.


Energy Access

AFREA is helping to expand access to reliable and affordable modern energy services by supporting improved service delivery and the scale-up of innovations in electricity, lighting and cooking.

Green Growth

Low carbon development, energy efficiency and climate change adaptation programs are vital to Africa’s future. AFREA supports green growth for a reliable, low carbon and sustainable power supply, supporting competitiveness and employment, enabling more businesses and people to realize their economic potential.

Capacity Building and Filling the Knowledge Gaps

AFREA’s role enhancing the capacity of key institutions—government ministries, rural energy agencies (REAs), power utilities, regulators and power pool operators—is essential to successful energy access scale-up.

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Making Biomass Energy Sustainable

Respiratory diseases are widespread among the 2.7 billion people, especially women and children, who still rely on traditional biomass for cooking in SSA. AFREA is building the foundation for AFTEG’s increased engagement in household biomass interventions through a range of activities like the Biomass Energy Initiative for Africa (BEIA), which has nine biomass pilot projects underway in eight countries. In Rwanda and Tanzania, charcoal producers have been trained in more efficient, sustainable production while in Uganda, a pilot project generating electricity from biodegradable waste was commissioned. AFREA also published a paper reviewing how the resource is developed and how supply and demand issues can be managed.

Africa Clean Cooking Energy Solutions Initiative (ACCES)

Together, the World Bank’s Africa Energy Group (AFTEG) and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) will work to implement ACCES in close coordination and through a strategic partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (the Alliance), and Sustainable Energy For All (SEFA) to scale-up clean cooking and fuel technologies through a consultative, integrated, enterprise-based approach to regional development.

Lighting Africa

Transforming markets and consumer behavior in Africa, the Lighting Africa initiative helps speed up the adoption of clean, off-grid lighting technologies by households and businesses. The goal is to provide cleaner, more affordable lighting to 2.5 million people by 2012 and 250 million people by 2030. An off-shoot in Tanzania saw AFREA provide innovation grants to 10 local organizations to pilot sustainable business models to bring clean, quality and affordable lighting to remote rural areas in a project called Lighting Rural Tanzania.

Energy and Gender

In Kenya, Mali, Senegal, and Tanzania, the groundwork is being laid for an approach to energy access that addresses the needs of both men and women. Since 2010, AFREA’s Gender and Energy Program has been applying a gender-sensitive approach to energy project design and policy dialogue in African countries. In Mali, a gender focal point has been appointed within the rural energy agency AMADER, the first of its kind in the region.

Africa Electrification Initiative

The AFREA-supported Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI) is a dynamic platform of over 230 representatives from African energy ministries, utilities, regulatory entities, research centers and NGOs. They share practical information on implementation issues and access a database of discussion papers and forums via AEI’s website. In 2011, AFREA supported their Dakar workshop on institutional approaches to electrification and experiences of Rural Energy Agencies/ Funds.

The AFREA program is managed by the World Bank through the Africa Energy Unit (AFTEG). The activities include: capacity building; technical assistance; advisory services; economic and social studies which directly support and/or create enabling conditions for increased renewable energy investments and expanding access to modern energy; and mainstreaming good practice in gender sensitivity analysis. Other activities focus on workshops and training, dissemination of information such as case studies, best practices, lessons learned to public and private organizations.

AFREA has already amassed a portfolio of practical achievements that are changing people’s lives in Africa.

Since FY2009, AFREA supported more than 25 activities, with over US$25 million. Financing has covered a wide range of activities including:

  • Improving electrification planning and mobilizing resources for energy access (Sector Wide Approach SWaPs), which mobilized resources in Rwanda (US$228 million) and Kenya (US$1.5 billion). Prospectus preparation is ongoing in Ethiopia and interest expressed by Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique.
  • Capacity Upgrading for the West African Partners in Renewable Energy Education Program.
  • Small innovation grants program to private sector/NGOs under the Biomass Energy Initiative for Africa (BEIA) and LADM.
  • Publication of the Wood Based Biomass Energy Development for Sub-Saharan Africa: Issues and Approaches paper.
  • Scale up of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar and bio-fuels.
  • Study of the potential for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in Southern Africa.
  • Partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, an international public-private partnership that supports adoption of clean, efficient stoves and fuels in 100 million homes by 2020, and launched a global mapping study on cook-stove programs.
  • Supporting Lighting Africa reach close to 1.5 million people with cleaner, quality-certified off-grid lighting products in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Supporting the Africa Electrification Initiative’s (AEI) activities including workshops, document database and online knowledge exchange platform.

AFREA also provided support and direct grants for governments to carry out activities that complement existing World Bank operations. In FY2011, these included:

  • Integration of renewable energy technologies into Mali’s off-grid electrification program under the Household Energy & Universal Access project (HUERA).
  • Small grants for innovative proposals that deliver affordable micro-energy services to rural Tanzania.
  • Catalyzing New Renewable Energy in Rural Liberia and Electricity Systems Enhancement projects. AFREA assisted the Government of Liberia establish a Rural and Renewable energy agency.
  • Enhancing Climate Resilience of Growth in Nigeria assessment.
  • Modernizing Biomass Energy in Benin through sustainable wood fuel production and market management system covering 300,000 hectares of forests.
  • Strengthening regulation of Rwanda’s Lake Kivu methane gas to power project Integrating gender-sensitive approaches to improving access to energy services into World Bank-financed energy projects in Benin, Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania.

AFREA II: Moving Ahead

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the World Bank‘s Africa Energy Unit (AFTEG) have proposed a new dedicated ESMAP program for Sub Saharan Africa: the second phase of the Africa Renewable Energy Access Program (AFREA II) providing multi-year funding to support the region’s energy access and renewable energy agenda.

Managed by AFTEG, AFREA II will continue to help find workable, scaleable solutions to Africa’s energy deficit in the following ways:

  • Promoting increased access to energy, with an emphasis on meeting basic household energy needs, and developing renewable energy and other low carbon energy sources;
  • Creating an enabling environment for regional cooperation and private sector participation in energy generation, transmission and distribution; and
  • Complementing and supporting AFTEG’s “Energy-Driven Development” vision of poverty reduction, green growth and making biomass sustainable in low income and post conflict countries.

Specific activities will include:

  • Support to rural energy agencies and utilities including energy efficiency programs;
  • Continued support to Lighting Africa’s efforts to help meet the long-term target of reaching 250 million people (50 million lights);
  • Implementation of the Africa Clean Cooking Initiative piloting and promoting improved cook stoves, improving sustainability of wood-fuel supply, inter-fuel substitution, and development of biomass energy strategies;
  • Disseminating information and building capacity among stakeholders to improve access and scale up renewable energy and offering low carbon development and climate change adaptation programs;
  • Continued priority for gender mainstreaming and sharing lessons learned in AFREA’s first phase;
  • Building private-public partnerships for the delivery of sustainable energy services; and
  • Promoting regional cooperation, in particular the increased use of renewable energy via regional power pools.


The Africa Renewable Energy Program (AFREA) seeks to inform its audience through a variety of media. The following list consists of World Bank featured webstories, as well as articles featured by the Lighting Africa initiative; the Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI), the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and overall AFREA webstories, book launchings, multimedia outputs and relevant events. Below is a comprehensive list of those:


The Africa Renewable Energy Program (AFREA) publishes a variety of reports focused on Africa's access to energy, and ways to address mainstreaming of gender into energy sector work. Below is a sample of those publications.


    Last updated June 2014

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