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Andris Piebalgs, European Development Commissioner

The European Commission has, on 1 April 2014, announced the results of the first call for proposals of an innovative programme for providing finance to bring electricity across the African continent.

Grants of €95 million have been awarded for16 projects across nine African countries to provide access to energy in rural areas, an amount which will be translated into projects costing more than €155 million, through co-financing support by applicants and bring electricity to more than 2 million people.

“This shows that real results are being delivered and that the EU is scaling up proven successful projects which have a high impact on poverty reduction through sustainable rural electrification. Energy is fundamental for every area of development; from creating jobs and boosting growth to improving healthcare and enabling people to cook safely. Yet too often, people in rural areas have been left behind – a shocking 84% of those without access to energy now live in the countryside. We need to make sure that our work supports everyone, no matter where they live,” says Andris Piebalgs, European Development Commissioner.

This is a first step in a new innovative programme to bring electricity to many millions. Over the next 7 years the Commission aims to spend more than €2 billion in supporting energy in Africa. This will, in turn, leverage investments exceeding €10 billion, filling in the gaps for energy infrastructure and therefore allowing businesses, schools, homes and hospitals to get the electricity they require.

In addition, another Call for Proposals targeting rural electrification in fragile states (such as Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and Mali) is currently under evaluation and will deliver more benefits in these countries, where the energy needs are greatest. This will be the next step to ensure that EU’s efforts to provide sustainable energy where it’s most needed bear fruit.

Background

The funding announced today is the result of a ‘Call for Proposals’, which is an EU funding system which enables NGOs, government and private sector organisations to receive a grant for EU Funding based on their proposal for an innovative project.

The countries which will benefit from this initiative are: Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon, Liberia, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Rwanda. The European Commission will promote another 40 proposals received –but not selected – to private and public donors and development agencies. Therefore, the list of countries and the number of rural population benefiting from the Call results could further increase.

In addition, infrastructure projects financed through our innovative blending instruments and the Technical Assistance Facility available for all Sub-Saharan African countries are already delivering results and contribute to the EU support for Sustainable Energy for All objectives.

Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity. Up to a billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. More than 2.6 billion people rely on solid fuels, for example traditional biomass and coal for cooking and heating.

A well-performing energy system that improves efficient access to modern forms of energy would strengthen the opportunities for the poorest people on the planet to escape the worst impacts of poverty. Access to energy provides people with the means to generate income – and that in turn creates wealth and new markets.

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