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Affordable electricity for Somalilanders

Somaliland has made great strides in its development as a peaceful, stable, independent democracy since the end of a bitter civil war in 1991 that left many of its cities, including the capital Hargeisa, in ruins.

Project Energy security and resource efficiency in Somaliland (ESRES)

Client UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Expertise Project management, technical assistance and advice, training and transfer of technology, technical advisor

The private sector has been key to the rebuilding effort and nowhere is this more striking than in the electricity sector, where a multitude of private suppliers compete. But the system of mostly small diesel generators is inefficient and expensive. Since the country is one of the poorest, many Somalilanders cannot afford power. ESRES aims to expand access to cleaner, cheaper and more reliable electricity using solar power.

Nine mini grids – combining solar energy with diesel generators – have been installed and electricity bills for poor households have been reduce by 37% on average.

The new system has provided more than 19,500 new connections and will ensure entire areas will be impervious to resource shocks. Using solar technology also reduces carbon emissions by 8822 tonnes a year.

By reducing the cost of electricity, ESRES will help Somalilanders move out of poverty. Before ESRES, rural electrification was extremely scarce and supplies to clinics and schools was unreliable. Where electricity was available, it was also expensive – about US$1/kwh at peak times. Too high for those on the lowest incomes, whose daily earnings average US$2.

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mini grids installed

Expanding access to electricity fuels economic development. Private companies were selected to build the mini grids, and ESRES worked with local operators to secure their support. Local people were trained to help install the kit and to provide ongoing maintenance. Lower tariffs have enabled small firms to reduce their costs and to invest, while many families can now afford to send their children to school.

ESRES was the first programme backed by the International Climate Fund and has been instrumental in helping small-scale energy providers to switch to renewable energy. ESRES provided the up-front investment in return for a commitment from companies to reduce energy tariffs, removing one of the main barriers to adopting renewable energy technologies in Somaliland.

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