Mini-Grids: The Answer To a Sustainably Powered Africa


For decades, the battle for a consistent supply of electricity has been a major dilemma throughout Africa.

With even some of the most developed African countries being unable to supply thousands of its families and businesses with free-flowing electricity, the need for change in this area remains urgent as the eyes of the global community are now on the continent.

For many of the continents under grid communities, electricity supply is scarce, and the inevitability of community-wide power cuts remain high.

As a result of the issue, the use of generators is very much commonplace. Running on pollutive resources such as gasoline and diesel, which are becoming more expensive to obtain, with rising oil prices, the use of gas and oil powered generators is proving to be unsustainable now, more than ever.

Unable to rely on the total assistance of the government’s supply of electricity, many communities have turned to other, more sustainable ways for consistent and reliable energy for their households and are reforming what it means to live in a sustainable Africa.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is just one of the many organisations fighting for a better supply of energy within communities on the continent. With rural areas in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and Congo still relying on temperamental energy supplies, the introduction of clean, reliable energy is believed to driving many of these communities to higher heights of economic development.

Focusing mainly on Nigeria, one of the few African countries to support the building of sustainable alternatives to electricity, the RMI have introduced the use of mini-grids – a form of sustainably consistent energy, independent of government organisations, that can be powered through the use of renewable energy sources such as Solar PV, wind power and biomass; and with a constant supply of such natural resources being available and easily accessible in Africa, the vision for a clean and sustainable Africa is being proven attainable.

Many businesses have had to rely on expensive and unreliable sources of energy to run their trade, and the expenses have been crippling for some; resulting in businesses shutting down due to damaged equipment as a result of unscheduled power-cuts and lack of revenue.

By cutting the use of diesel generators and other more dangerous methods of energy production, the introduction of mini-grids is not only beneficial to the environment, it is also proven to be economically cheaper.

For communities in less developed rural areas, with typically limited financial flexibility in comparison to other communities closer to the city, being able to spend less of their household income on bills and expenses can have a massive, positive impact improving the basic standard of living.

With access to consistent and reliable energy, countries like Nigeria are able to provide a better standard of living for its people, resulting in an increased level of productivity, due to businesses being able to carry out their work at a higher rate, creating more job opportunities for some of country’s promising young talent whose desires may have been to move away from Nigeria for better working opportunities.