In a major commitment to fast-track climate-resilient economic growth in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, Husk Power Systems today announced the “Africa Sunshot” initiative, with a goal of having 2,500 net-zero minigrids operating in off-grid and weak-grid communities in the region within 5 years. Husk expects to mobilize $500 million in equity and debt to finance the Sunshot.
Announced as part of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, Husk put forward a set of goals that significantly raised the ambitions of the minigrid industry ahead of 2030, the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including universal energy access as part of SDG7.
The 5-year goals of the Africa Sunshot include:
2,500 operational minigrids
1 million new connections directly impacting 7.7 million people
225,000 micro small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) connected
150MW installed of rooftop solar commercial and industrial (C&I)
2.1 megatons of CO2 avoided through displacement of diesel generation
In the 33 least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa, the electrification rate is only 36%. According to the World Bank, powering 380 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 will require the construction of more than 160,000 minigrids at a total cost of $91 billion. At the current pace, only about 12,000 new minigrids serving 46 million people will be built. Without a massive industry scale-up and a more than 10-fold increase in the industry’s current deployment rate, SDG7 will remain decades away.
Husk currently has more than 200 minigrids in operation in Nigeria and India. Under the Africa Sunshot, Husk outlined country-specific targets, including 1,000 minigrids in Nigeria (doubling Husk’s previous target), 500 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 250 each in four additional countries still to be identified. With the needed 10-fold increase in mind, earlier this year Husk put forward a new public-private partnership (PPP) framework, offering to mobilize financing to build hundreds of minigrids in Africa if the right conditions are in place.
Referring to today’s announcement, Manoj Sinha, Husk’s Co-Founder and CEO, said: “Meeting the targets of the Africa Sunshot will require operational excellence from Husk, and we are ready to mobilize immediately. It will also need the active support of governments to get the right policies in place that integrate minigrids as a central component of national electrification and energy transition plans. Finally, all investors, including development finance institutions, infrastructure funds, and commercial debt providers, must provide the appropriate quantum, tenure and cost of capital to meet these accelerated timelines.”
Added Olu Aruike, Husk’s Nigeria Country Director: “Now is the time to support a 10-fold increase in the minigrid industry and supercharge low carbon and climate resilient growth in rural Africa. We’re already doing it at scale today in Nigeria, the world’s largest off-grid market, and it’s time to roll out that scale across the continent.”