U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through Power Africa, on Tuesday awarded $2.6 million (N1.2 billion) grant to nine energy companies to electrify 288 rural health facilities without reliable access to power.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Power Africa is a U.S. Government-led initiative that brings together 12 government agencies, development partners and private sector companies, with the goal of doubling access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The grant, totaling $2.6 million (1.2 billion) was launched in a virtual event which highlighted the importance of healthcare electrification for COVID-19 response and recovery.
NAN reports that the awardees include Havenhill Synergy Ltd (Nigeria), KYA-Energy Group (Togo), Zuwa Energy (Malawi), OffGridBox (Rwanda) Nanoé (Madagascar) as well as PEG, Solarworks, Power and Muhanya Solar Limited for other parts of Africa.
Mark Carrato, Acting Coordinator, Power Africa, said that USAID was doing everything possible to help keep the sector afloat because “these are challenging times for companies operating in emerging markets.”
According to him, when it comes to universal energy access and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal seven, the world can’t afford to go backwards.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Power Africa has successfully worked with local industry associations to compel governments to declare off grid energy as an essential service.
“Despite the economic downturn in the last quarter, we managed to raise $65 million for the energy sector in forms of grants, loans and equity, providing much needed liquidity for a range of companies.
“We know that as a result of the economic downturn, brought by COVID-19, many energy access companies are struggling right now.
“We’re working with a group of investors and development partners so that more companies can receive low interest concessional loans in order to maintain staff and service existing customers.
“We are also helping African governments put in place the legal and regulatory frameworks needed to attract off-grid energy and base investments,”Carrato said.
Chris Milligan, Counselor to USAID, said that the agency was highlighting its mode of operation through partnerships with governments and the private sector that empower communities to solve their own challenges.
According to him, the agency values its partnership with African governments which improve the well being of millions on the continent.
“As Americans, we stand together not only with the people in Africa, but with countless others across the globe to help countries and their people address their development challenges.
“We know the impact of COVID-19 goes far beyond just the health impacts, but also on the social and economic well being of many vulnerable households.
“Without reliable and affordable electricity, it is even more difficult for these communities to recover from the wide ranging impacts of COVID-19.
“Functioning healthcare facilities are essential, not only for individuals health, but also for their economic and overall wellbeing,”he said.
The counselor said that without electricity, health systems struggle to meet the needs of their communities, no matter the dedication of healthcare workers.
“Healthcare facilities need electricity for almost all of their activities as we already know.
“And because most of them are in rural areas, it is important to harness the cutting edge and sustainable off grid solutions that the private sector can bring.
“We cannot solve the problems by working alone and that’s why we’ve awarded grants to demonstrate what we can accomplish when the public and private sectors join forces and find new solutions to this challenge.
“Because of these partnerships, doctors and nurses will have access to better equipment, procedures and surgeries will be safer, and people will live longer, more productive and healthier lives,”he said.
In a recorded message, the beneficiary firms highlighted the importance of health care electrification and summarized the activities their companies would undertake. (NAN)