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Power Africa, SEforALL to accelerate health facility electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa

USD 1 million grant funded by USAID will enable data-driven investment to support healthcare in wake of COVID-19 pandemic  

Wednesday, March 31, 2021: Power Africa and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) have today announced a new  two-year USD 1 million grant funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that will support African governments and the donor community to coordinate and assist national  health facility electrification efforts. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention on the inequalities and vulnerabilities of health systems across the world. The lack of reliable power in health facilities undermines the quality of healthcare for millions of people, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 60 percent of all health centers do not have access to electricity, and of those that do, only 34 percent of hospitals and 28 percent of health clinics have reliable access. This means that nearly 60 percent of refrigerators used in health clinics in Africa do not have reliable electricity necessary for the safe storage of vaccines and medicines. In fact, half of all vaccines distributed globally are ruined due to lack of refrigeration. Medicine and vaccine storage is only a part of an ongoing problem. Worldwide, more than 289,000 women die every year from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, a tragedy that could be mitigated with better lighting and other electricity-dependent medical services. 

Heightened awareness of these issues from the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with recent advances in off-grid energy solutions, present a timely opportunity to improve access to quality healthcare and make health facilities more resilient. 

Off-grid renewable energy solutions can provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity to health centres in countries with significant electricity access gaps. Deploying these solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa requires overcoming significant barriers, including lack of long-term financing and sustainable business models, poor stakeholder and donor coordination, and limited enabling policies that support sustainable service delivery.

Through this new programme, Power Africa and SEforALL will equip target governments and their development partners with the necessary building blocks to identify, power, and sustainably maintain health facilities by 2030. 

Working in close coordination with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNDP, the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID, the programme will provide African decision-makers with the knowledge and tools required to drive faster and more efficient progress toward universal electrification of health facilities in Africa. 

SEforALL will also provide thought leadership to identify and develop sustainable business models, policies and quality assurances needed to leverage public and private sector investment in health facilities, as well as develop new data and research to build a powerful evidence base that will support effective strategies and policies to power health facilities.  Read more about the programme here. 

“This grant supports stronger and more resilient health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa by accelerating the development and deployment of clean energy and sustainable investment in health facilities,” said Power Africa’s Coordinator, Mark Carrato. “Our collaboration with SEforALL complements Power Africa’s many other initiatives at the intersection of healthcare and electricity provision, including the recent grants to nine distributed renewable energy companies to power health facilities. These companies and others like them will benefit from the coordination SEforALL will facilitate while providing valuable information on health facilities’ needs and the viability of different health facility electrification business models,” Carrato added.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, said “In many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, healthcare centres are operating without sufficient, reliable electricity, putting patients’ lives in danger. Ensuring everyone has access to quality health services powered by sustainable energy is a matter of equality. SEforALL and Power Africa are taking bold steps that will enable investment in health facility electrification in areas where local populations are most at risk.”

A new blog released today explores the programme in more detail and can be read here.

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