16 June 2022, Nairobi— Africa’s first project financing facility for mini-grids, CrossBoundary Energy Access (CBEA), announced $25 million in new funding commitments from ARCH Emerging Markets Partners Limited, Bank of America, and Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. This investment will leverage an additional $25 million in senior debt to deploy $50 million of capital into CBEA’s near-term pipeline of solar powered mini-grids.
CBEA will deploy a total of $150 million over the next two years to bring clean energy to one million people in Africa. The mini-grids combine solar and batteries to provide 24/7 grid-quality power to households and businesses. This initiative will enable individual local residential and small business subscribers to access renewable electricity for the first time. These solar powered mini-grids will help bridge the gap by bringing clean electricity to rural areas of Africa that do not presently have access to electricity.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the solar mini-grid sector needs $187 billion to achieve universal energy access by 2030. CBEA believes project finance is key to unlocking the long-term, infrastructure-type capital that the mini-grid sector needs. CBEA first pioneered its blended project finance structure in 2019 with funding from Rockefeller Foundation, Ceniarth, DOEN Foundation, Shell Foundation and UK Aid.
According to the IEA, more than 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity. This puts a brake on economic growth, productive investment, job creation, and poverty reduction. Solar mini-grids provide a solution to this issue, unlocking the potential of those living without electricity. CBEA’s blended finance approach creates a new model for funding rural electrification in Africa, bringing renewable electricity to one million people once the target $150 million is fully deployed.