Africa has announced the disbursement of $2.6million in grants to solar companies to provide off-grid electricity to 288 healthcare facilities across sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the World Bank Report Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Uptake, Reliability and Complementary Factors for Economic impact, almost 60 per cent of healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. Of those that do, only 34% of hospitals and 28 per cent of health clinics have reliable, 24-hour access.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has so painfully highlighted, efficient health services and responses to diseases depend heavily on access to reliable electricity.
Energy is critical to power essential devices, medical and sterilisation equipment, diagnostic equipment, cold storage for vaccines and medication, information technology and at its most basic, lights to enable delivery of continuous health care services.
Power Africa acting coordinator Mark Carrato stated that solar energy holds great potential to expand and improve healthcare delivery in sub-Saharan Africa. “Off-grid solar technology offers a clean, affordable and smart solution to electrify healthcare facilities located beyond the reach of national electricity grids.”
“Power Africa’s experience shows that off-grid solar energy systems can be rapidly deployed to even the most rural facilities,” explained Carrato.
Lead for Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative David Stonehill said USAID through the grants is investing in a set of pilot projects that demonstrates how healthcare electrification can be delivered in a commercially sustainable manner, with strong private sector involvement.
“These grants demonstrate the Power Africa model in action. We use a modest amount of public funding to de-risk the transaction, thus opening the door for private investment,” said Stonehill.