UK aid to give clean energy boost to Africa


The Department for International Development’s Transforming Energy Access programme has already helped people and businesses across Africa cut 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions and improve the lives of 3.2 million low-income people. It has also leveraged $359 million worth of investment in clean energy from the public and private sectors.

This additional UK aid announced at an event in London, will:

  • fund research into new ways of storing energy in developing countries, including developing new types of batteries and ensuring that electrical waste does not pollute the environment;
  • provide further funding to the Energy Catalyst Challenge fund for start-ups to develop new renewable technologies, including solar and bioenergy initiatives. This fund will improve access to renewable energy to thousands of low-income households and enterprises, develop new technologies, create jobs and help leverage public and private finance;
  • step up the UK’s commitment to clean energy partnerships and research into ways of engaging diaspora communities in the UK to crowdfund energy technology in African countries.

Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, said:

Transforming Energy Access is using the UK’s expertise in technology and finance to provide power for people across Africa and tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges, climate change.

The UK government’s investment in clean energy and waste reduction for people and businesses will help millions of people across Africa. It’s a win for the developing world and a win for the UK.

Since 2011, UK climate finance has helped provide 17 million people with improved access to clean energy.

There’s still some way to go, with 60% of Africa businesses saying access to reliable power is a constraint on their growth. Power outages cost African countries 1 to 2% of their GDP annually. Currently, 600 million people across the continent have no access to electricity and 70% of African people lack access to clean, non-toxic cooking fuels.

DFID is also allocating UK aid to scale up development of green mini-grids to improve access to clean energy for off-grid communities. This funding, in partnership with the African Development Bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, will increase the numbers of green mini-grids in African countries from hundreds to thousands. It will also ensure that mini-grids are embedded into the wider energy network.


  • This new UK funding will see £30 million added to the Transforming Energy Access programme, taking total UK investment to £100 million, and allowing it to continue until 2024. The money will be spent on:

  • Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst challenge fund (£10 million):
  • Energy Catalyst provides grants to develop clean energy technology for developing countries.
  • The extension announced today will help fund technologies such as mini-grids, and solar and bioenergy initiatives. It will also contribute to Energy Catalyst calls for proposals over the next two years, funding a further wave of clean energy innovation.

  • Creating energy storage for Africa (£10 million):

  • This challenge funding will build on research and innovation expertise developed within the Faraday Battery Challenge, a £246 million programme which is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and help find new ways of storing clean energy.
  • £3million will support research into finding new energy storage technologies, such as ways of replacing diesel generators, to be administered by the Faraday Institution.
  • £7million will fund innovations in battery storage for developing countries through Innovate UK. This will dramatically reduce the costs of storing clean renewable energy technology on and off the grid, enabling people to stop using diesel generators.

  • Scaling up successful clean energy and energy capacity building partnerships (£10 million):
  • Transforming Energy Access is supporting a series of clean energy partnerships. This includes crowdfunding partnerships that enable distributors to reach the poorest consumers with energy. Partnerships include research into ways of engaging diaspora communities in the UK in crowdfunding energy innovations back in their home countries.
  • Transforming Energy Access is also supporting a new partnership involving African and UK universities to develop courses and in-work training and placements for young Africans in clean energy technology.
  • Scaling up the Powering Opportunities Partnership will also stimulate rural economic activity in agricultural and other sectors such as manufacturing, retail, timber and carpentry.

  • In addition to the £30million funding of the Transforming Energy Access programme, UK aid will increase funding to Green Mini-Grids:

  • £21million funding will be spent on green mini-grids from the £65million Africa Clean Energy (ACE) programme which aims to improve access to reliable energy and will create job opportunities in developing countries. The funding will be spent through the African Development Bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP).

  • All this work on climate supports Global Goal Seven to ensure access for everyone in the world to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.

  • This announcement comes following the Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced £100 million of funding to support up to 40 renewable energy products in sub-Saharan Africa at COP24 in Poland in December, giving hundreds of thousands of people electricity for the first time.

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