(Photo source: RECP)
The exchange was timely as both Uganda and Zambia are moving at different stages of master planning; rural electrification strategy development; and tendering in their efforts to promote rural energy access. Moreover, Nigeria, as host country, demonstrated its relatively advanced ‘light-handed’ regulatory framework for private sector financed mini-grids below 1MW. Since 2017, 6 isolated partly private sector financed solar mini grids were commissioned in 5 States, of which four were partly financed by crowdfunding. Participants of the exchange engaged in active discussions covering planning and site identification, regulations, due diligence requirements, tariff approval best practices, and financing.
By reflecting on the successes and challenges of mini-grid market development in Nigeria, participants explored how lessons learnt can be applied in the Ugandan and Zambian contexts. In particular, participants discussed options to ease the licensing for small mini-grids below a certain capacity, of which a simple registration process was underlined as an effective way to facilitate private sector’s participation. Other options included replacing a full environmental impact assessment with a simpler ‘project brief’ especially for solar projects. Finally, participants reflected on options for compensation when the grid arrives. Nigeria’s “Mini Grid Regulations” document inspired participants with possible solutions that can be adapted according to each country’s conditions and needs.