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Although 74 percent of healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have some form of access to electricity, surveys show that only 28 percent of such facilities, on average, have a reliable energy supply (i.e., when power is available during all regular service hours). Energy access rates tend to be lower for healthcare facilities in rural areas beyond national power grids. However, urban and peri-urban facilities across the region also face energy constraints. To meet the significant demand for electrified healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, Power Africa awarded grant funding to 14 private sector off-grid solar energy companies to implement innovative, sustainable approaches to HFE. These grants comprise a 2020 $2,620,650 grant window for HFE pilots in nine countries, a 2021 $363,607 grant window for electrifying maternal and child health services in two countries, and a recent $2,327,701 grant window to scale HFE efforts in five countries.
This latest round of grants will help companies scale tested business models and technologies used to electrify healthcare facilities. The grantees have demonstrated experience in installing and maintaining solar energy systems to power off-grid or weak-grid facilities. To obtain the grant funding, each company formulated an operations and maintenance plan for its clean energy systems covering at least five years, guaranteed adherence to national energy standards and the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association’s consumer protection code, and incorporated remote monitoring to optimize the energy supply. In reviewing the grantees’ proposals, Power Africa prioritized the social benefit of the solutions proposed (such as the size of the catchment population served), economic sustainability, and the share of women leading and working in the company.
Under this latest round of Power Africa grants, Aptech Africa will partner with SustainSolar, another Power Africa HFE grantee, to electrify four off-grid healthcare facilities which offer maternal and child health services in Sierra Leone.