The Growing Government Engagement in Energy Access (GGE-EA) project, expands capacity building targeting public officials working in the minigrid and off-grid sector. The GGE-EA project is delivered through the Africa Mini-Grids Community of Practice (AMG CoP). The project hosted 4-days of online training between January and March of 2023 to provide government officials in the AMG CoP network with information and tools needed to forecast demand for electricity in rural areas and identify electrical sizing and design to plan the optimal systems to meet rural electrification needs. This training supported participating officials in more effectively evaluate, approve, and integrate renewable energy-minigrids into their power systems. The training was co-financed through the Africa LEDS Partnership and CLUB-ER partnership.
The training had 4 principal objectives:
- To provide government officials in Africa with a comprehensive understanding of distribution networks and their role in rural electrification, in order to improve the efficiency, reliability, and safety of electrification systems.
- To equip government officials with the knowledge and tools needed to forecast demand for electricity in rural areas, in order to optimize electrification planning and design, and to ensure that electrification projects are financially sustainable.
- To enhance the participants’ capacities in electrical sizing and design, including the selection of appropriate equipment and technologies, to improve the efficiency, reliability, and safety of rural electrification systems.
- To strengthen the participants’ knowledge and skills in mechanical sizing and design, including the selection of appropriate equipment and technologies, to ensure that rural electrification systems are designed and implemented to the highest possible standards of safety and sustainability.
Twenty-five officials from nine countries in Western and Central Africa participated in the trainings, and the vast majority of the participants found the information and tools provided in the trainings useful to their everyday activities. Specifically, the officials found the demand assessment portion of the training to be the most important topic covered in the training and expressed strong interest in further learning and capacity building on this topic. As a result of feedback from this workshop series and AMG CoP members, the GGE-EA project is developing improved rural mini-grid demand tools and datasets to support new mini-grid planning and development and support investment mobilization into the sector.
Additional opportunities for future GGE-EA trainings include: developing tools that are easily accessible to mobile devices, as many government officials attending these trainings used their phones or tablets to access training materials; increased participant and trainer engagement through WhatsApp communities and other platforms in-between training sessions; and increased outreach to other regions of the African continent to boost engagement from the broader region.