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Off-Grid, Mini-Grid Technologies Critical for Africa

Investing in new off-grid and mini-grid technologies to extend energy access across Africa will be instrumental in helping smallholder farmers to meet rising food demand.

Achieving universal energy access with the help of mini and nano solutions is vital to meet rising food demand and transform rural lives in Africa, according to a panel of experts.

Africa accounts for just six percent of the world’s energy demand, despite hosting 20 percent of the global population, leaving rural areas relying on manpower for as much as 80 percent of the energy used in farming.

Currently, 840 million people worldwide live without access to affordable, reliable and safe modern energy. Collectively, they spend about $27 billion each.

In Energized: Policy innovation to power the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and food system, experts from the Malabo Montpellier Panel highlighted opportunities for greater energy access to transform the livelihoods of the rural poor, reducing the drudgery of their work and generating higher incomes.

The rapid spread of off-grid and mini-grid solutions for renewable energy offers hope that Africa can leapfrog outdated and dirty technologies, with almost five million families installing solar home systems in 2018. But achieving universal energy access will require a fourfold increase in investment to US$120 billion a year by 2040.

As demand for food continues to grow globally, universal access to energy will become an urgent necessity, both for the production, processing, and consumption of more nutritious food.

Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable sources of energy to prepare land, plant, harvest, process, distribute and cook food, will ensure that Africa’s agricultural sector can respond to this demand, all within the context of climate change and increasingly scarce natural resources.

Overall, cooking accounts for more than 70 percent of household energy usage in Africa, compared with less than 10 percent globally. So greater energy access would benefit African women in particular, allowing them to spend less time collecting fuel for cooking and heating, and benefitting from less pollution in their homes.

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