The Mini-grid Policy Toolkit is for policy makers to navigate the mini-grid policy design process. It contains information on mini-grid operator models, the economics of mini-grids, and necessary policy and regulation that must be considered for successful implementation. The publication specifically focuses on Africa.
Progress on extending the electricity grid in many countries has remained slow because of high costs of gird-extension and limited utility/state budgets for electrification. Mini-grids provide an affordable and cost-effective option to extend needed electricity services. Putting in place the right policy for min-grid deployment requires considerable effort but can yield significant improvement in electricity access rates as examples from Kenya, Senegal and Tanzania illustrate.
Rural electrification improves people’s quality of life and enables economic development in rural areas. To date, rural electrification in Africa has been based predominately on grid extension. However, progress has remained slow due to the high cost of grid extension to remote areas and limited utility/state budgets for electrification. It is thus advisable to extend the central grid only where it makes economic sense, to operate mini-grids in villages outside the reach of the central grid, and to apply stand-alone systems (like Solar Home Systems and pico-PV systems) in sparsely populated areas with weak demand potential. The future electrification will rely on mini-grids to a large extent; the International Energy Agency (IEA) anticipates that more than 50% of the rural population currently without energy access are best supplied with electricity via mini-grids. Mini-grids involve small-scale electricity generation (10 kW to 10MW) which serves a limited number of consumers via a distribution grid that can operate in isolation from national electricity transmission networks. Putting in place the right policy for mini-grid deployment, and thus accelerating its uptake, requires considerable effort but can yield significant improvements in access to electricity, as examples from Senegal, Mali, Tanzania, Kenya and other countries show.