BRUSSLES, 1 APRIL 2014: The European Commission has announced the results of the first call for proposals of an innovative programme for providing finance to bring electricity to the world's poorest citizens. NGOs, governments and private sector organisations competed to receive EU Funding for innovative programmes.

Grants of €95 million have been awarded for 16 projects across nine African countries to provide access to energy in rural areas, an amount which will be translated into projects costing more than €155 million (through co-financing support by applicants) and bring electricity to more than 2 million people. The countries which will benefit from this initiative are: Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon, Liberia, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Rwanda.

Commissioner Piebalgs said: “This shows that real results are being delivered and that the EU is scaling up proven successful projects which have a high impact on poverty reduction through sustainable rural electrification.”

Over the next 7 years the Commission aims to spend more than €2 billion in supporting energy in Africa. This will, in turn, leverage investments exceeding €10 billion, filling in the gaps for energy infrastructure and therefore allowing businesses, schools, homes and hospitals to get the electricity they require.

“Energy is fundamental for every area of development; from creating jobs and boosting growth to improving healthcare and enabling people to cook safely. Yet too often, people in rural areas have been left behind - a shocking 84% of those without access to energy now live in the countryside. We need to make sure that our work supports everyone, no matter where they live", Commissioner Piebalgs added.

In addition, another Call for Proposals targeting rural electrification in fragile states (such as Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and Mali) is currently under evaluation and will deliver more benefits in these countries, where the energy needs are greatest.

These initiatives show that the EU has been an important leader in the campaign to provide Sustainable Energy for All.

Piebalgs Photo Credit: Wirtschaftblatt Oesterreich