MCC’s compact with the Government of Benin reached a milestone this week with the launch of the first call for projects for the Off-Grid Clean Energy Facility. With this milestone comes new opportunity for U.S. and international companies and organizations to partner with MCC in the effort to transform Benin’s energy sector. I spoke with Chris Broughton, MCC’s Resident Country Director in Benin, who provided an update on the compact and how companies can get involved.
Jason Bauer: What is the focus of MCC’s investment in Benin?
Chris Broughton: MCC and the Government of Benin are working together to increase access to reliable electricity in Benin. Only one-third of the country currently has power, which is holding back progress for businesses, households, and communities—and we expect energy demand in the country to double by 2024. MCC is investing $375 million and the people of Benin are contributing $28 million to strengthen the policies and institutions that guide the power sector, improve the production and distribution of energy through infrastructure investments, and bolster off-grid access via policy reform activities and the OCEF.
JB: What is the Off-Grid Clean Energy Facility?
CB: The Off-Grid Clean Energy Facility (OCEF) is a challenge fund that will finance grants to advance proven, off-grid business models in Benin. The OCEF’s objective is to strengthen investment in Benin’s off-grid energy sector in order to increase electrification rates particularly for poor and rural populations. The OCEF is, to date, the U.S. Government’s largest investment in off-grid power in one country. The facility encourages partnerships with the private sector to identify technical solutions and business models that provide viable off-grid electrification solutions to improve access in rural and peri-urban areas.
JB: What is the new opportunity with the OCEF?
CB: The OCEF has opened its first call for proposals and is looking for projects focused on:
- Off-grid energy for essential public infrastructure;
- Household energy systems; and
- Business models to implement energy efficiency measures.
JB: How much grant funding is available for the OCEF?
CB: Approximately $12 million will be allocated for 12-15 projects in this first call for proposals. Approximately $32 million will be distributed by the facility overall, across two calls for proposals.
JB: How can organizations get involved?
CB: Additional information on the call for proposals and opportunities to engage partners is available on the OCEF’s partnership platform at www.ocef.bj.