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A general view shows solar panels used to produce renewable energy at the photovoltaic park in Cestas, southwestern France, June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

UN launches solar mini-grids program in Somalia

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Somalia have launched an ambitious solar mini-grids program to increase access to electricity in the country.

UNDP Resident Representative in Somalia Jocelyn Mason said in a joint statement released Monday evening in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, that 65 percent of people don’t have access to electricity in Somalia. The Somalia project of the Africa Minigrids Program (AMP) will bring new development opportunities to rural communities while contributing to putting the country on a sustainable development path.

“Yet the appalling drought we are experiencing now only underscores the importance of sustainable, green energy, and Somalia has the potential for plentiful supplies of solar and wind energy,” Mason said.

The program, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Africa Minigrids Program, is a regional energy access program led by UNDP in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a leading think tank based in Colorado that monitors and projects energy trends worldwide, and the African Development Bank.

The AMP works with 21 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to promote scaled-up investments in solar mini-grids to increase access to sustainable, affordable energy while supporting climate action.

The UNDP said the project will start with pilot projects to demonstrate the viability of mini-grids hybridization, which will provide electricity to 66,670 people while avoiding nearly 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2eq) direct emissions.

This will be the first step of the AMP approach in the country, which aims to catalyze a larger, durable transformation of the country’s energy system which will help the country close its energy access gap while enabling a 594,000 tCO2eq of indirect greenhouse gas emissions mitigation.

Jama Taqal, Somalia’s minister of Energy and Water Resources, said the program will increase access to clean energy and improve service delivery.

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