UNDP Launches Africa Minigrids Program in Somalia to Increase Access to Clean Energy

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Federal Government of Somalia have launched the Africa Minigrids Program (AMP) in the country. The aim of the initiative is to increase access to electricity with decentralized solutions and bring new development opportunities to rural communities.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the AMP is a regional initiative led by UNDP in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). The program is underway in 21 countries of sub-Saharan Africa and promotes scaled-up investments in solar mini-grids, increasing access to sustainable, clean, and affordable energy.

UNDP Country Office in Somalia will implement the program in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and several private investors. The AMP program in Somalia is tailored to the unique nature of the country’s energy sector where 90% of the electricity is generated by small-scale energy service providers.

Jocelyn Mason, the UNDP Resident Representative in Somalia, said that increasing access to energy via solar mini-grids is one of the most cost-effective and fastest ways to improve the lives of people across the country. The AMP project will work with the existing ecosystem of electricity service providers to hybridize the existing diesel mini-grids with solar. 

The program will focus on institutionalizing capacity building, stakeholder engagement, and innovative financial mechanisms for shifting the mini-grid sector from diesel to solar technologies. It will also support digital technologies for renewable energy projects already underway in Somalia. This will enable the energy service providers, who have limited financial access from banks, to scale up their business by adopting innovative models such as pay-as-you-go. 

Jama Taqal, Somalian Minister of Energy and Water Resources, said the project under the Africa Minigrids Program will increase access to clean, affordable energy and improve service delivery. GEF and UNDP support will help in achieving the targets envisaged in the country’s power sector master plan.

The AMP Somalia’s first step will start with pilot projects to demonstrate the viability of mini-grid hybridization. These projects will connect 66,670 people with electricity while avoiding nearly 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. AMP will further catalyze a larger, durable transformation of the energy sector of the country, closing the energy access gap and enabling the mitigation of 594,000 tons of indirect greenhouse gas emissions.