The mini-grid conundrum

The GEAPP said in rural areas that have the greatest electrification needs, mini-grids are often the lowest-cost solution.

However, the continued expansion of mini-grids depends on overcoming a key rural

development trap.

“Without significant demand for electricity, mini-grids are unprofitable and financially unsustainable.

“Without a reliable supply of electricity, it is hard to justify investing in the kind of industry that consumes large amounts of power.

“Thus, agricultural communities with the greatest need for electrification are caught in a vicious cycle, where power cannot be developed for lack of demand, and demand cannot be developed for lack of power.”

The EAP is looking to bridge that gap.Private sector involvement

Within the EAP, an Agriculture-Energy Innovation Accelerator is helping to pilot agriculture-energy solutions at mini-grids throughout the country.

The Innovation Accelerator helps teams of private sector actors develop, demonstrate, and prove the commercial viability of equipment and business models that stimulate electricity demand and drive productivity.

Five thematic teams have been piloting private-led approaches to electrifying milling, cold storage and mobility with clean mini-grid electricity.