Mozambique: World Bank Support for Rural Energy and Broadband

The World Bank has approved a grant of US$300 million that will support the government of Mozambique’s projects to increase access to energy and broadband services.

According to a press release from the World Bank, energy access remains low in Mozambique with large differences between rural and urban areas. It notes that only eight per cent of people in rural areas are estimated to have access to electricity compared with 72 per cent in urban areas.

The project will also expand off-grid electricity access and clean cooking solutions with a particular focus on underserved areas of the northern provinces. World Bank documents point out that the main domestic fuel is firewood and charcoal, with an estimated 92 per cent of the population using woody biomass, which leads to deforestation and forest degradation.

The third section of the project will address the lack of access to telecommunications services, with only 30 per cent of the population using the internet.

The World Bank’s representative for Mozambique, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, points out that “Mozambique’s economy can benefit from systematically harnessing the synergies of energy and digital connectivity in rural and fragile areas to enhance economic productivity, promote inclusive growth, and build resilience in a sustainable manner”.

She added that “we will focus on energy provision to the poor, to those displaced by conflict, and to critical social services such as schools and hospitals”.

The funding will be used to expand the electricity grid in peri-urban and rural areas with over 1.1 million beneficiaries and provide broadband access to at least 580,000 people.

Explaining the link between these two foci, the World Bank’s co-task team leader, Casey Torgusson, pointed out that “Energy and information and communications technology (ICT) access increasingly go hand in hand – electricity is needed to power digital devices and networks, while mobile communications and payments can unlock new business models for low-cost solar home system deployment”.

He added, “by adopting a coordinated approach in the deployment of energy and ICT, this project holds significant potential to improve access to energy and broadband services in rural areas, creating greater social and economic connection and opportunities in otherwise isolated communities”.

The ProEnergia project will also receive US$38 million from Sweden and Norway through the Mozambique Energy for All Multi-Donor Trust Fund and a further five million dollars from the ESMAP Clean Cooking Fund.

The World Bank grant will come from the International Development Association (IDA).

SOURCE: All Africa

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