United Nations Foundation Joins ‘Beyond the Grid’ Program to Help ‘Power Africa’ Reach Rural Communities

Foundation, With Other Partners, Will Help Catalyze $1 Billion Of New Investment In Off-Grid And Small-Scale Energy Solutions.

June 3, 2014


Megan Rabbitt

ADDIS ABABA: The United Nations Foundation, along with 26 other founding partners, joins ‘Beyond the Grid’, an innovative program for decentralized energy under President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, launched today in Addis Ababa by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Over five years, the UN Foundation’s Energy Access Practitioner Network along with other founding partners will help ‘Beyond the Grid’ leverage partnerships and direct investments of at least $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions in sub-Saharan Africa, helping to take innovative business models to scale and bringing electricity to an anticipated 20 million households and businesses.

Richenda Van Leeuwen, Executive Director for Energy Access at the UN Foundation, said: “As a founding partner of ‘Beyond the Grid’ we strongly endorse the mission to expand access to modern energy services in sub-Saharan Africa, leveraging and building on our existing work through the Energy Access Practitioner Network to use micro-grid and decentralized solutions to bring reliable power to customers and communities alike.”

The UN Foundation’s 1,600 member strong Energy Access Practitioner Network will help Power Africa and ‘Beyond the Grid’ advance the policy and regulatory frameworks necessary to overcome recurring constraints and create an enabling environment for greater access to financial and technical assistance historically not available to small energy businesses.

The Power Africa initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership among the United States government, governments in Africa, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the private sector. In a press release on the launch of the initiative, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said: “With close to 600 million people without access to modern-day electricity, it is clear that centralized grid access is not a comprehensive solution for these countries in one of the world’s least urban continents. But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas.”

Formally launched by President Obama in June 2013, the initiative has already helped complete almost 2,800 MW worth of transactions and has secured commitments for another 5,000 MW, representing almost 75 percent of the initial goal of bringing an additional 10,000 MW of cleaner, more reliable energy to Power Africa’s six focus countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, the press release said.

To date, Power Africa has leveraged more than $15 billion in private sector investment on new on-, mini-, and off-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN Foundation will undertake its work on behalf of ‘Beyond the Grid’ as part of its support for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which was launched in 2011 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with three global objectives for 2030:

  •     Ensure universal access to modern energy services.
  •     Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
  •     Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Besides the UN Foundation, other founding partners of the initiative include:

  • Acumen Fund
  • Bamboo Finance
  • Capricorn Investments
  • CrossBoundary
  • d.light
  • Embark Energy
  • Energiya Global
  • Fenix International
  • Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
  • Gray Ghost Ventures
  • Invested Development
  • Khosla Impact
  • LGT Venture Philanthropy
  • Liberia Energy Network
  • Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
  • Mosaic
  • Off Grid Electric
  • Persistent Energy Partners
  • Powerhive
  • Schneider Electric
  • Shell Foundation
  • Solar Sister
  • SunFunder
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation
  • Virunga Power

For more information on Power Africa and ‘Beyond the Grid’ initiative, please visit: www.usaid.gov/powerafrica

For more information on the UN Foundation’s Energy Access Practitioner Network, please visit: www.energyaccess.org


About the United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities.  We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach.  Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems.  These campaigns seek to reduce child mortality, empower women and girls, create a new energy future, secure peace and human rights, and promote technology innovation to improve health outcomes.

Media Contact:

Mahalakshmi Mahadevan
Communications Officer, Energy and Climate
United Nations Foundation
Email: mmahadevan@unfoundation.org