The Energy Talk

Investing in Africa's Minigrids: Humphrey Wireko

Episode Summary

"Achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 is estimated to require an investment of USD 187 billion (EUR 163bn) in mini-grids globally, and sub-Saharan Africa is the main destination."

Episode Notes

"Achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 is estimated to require an investment of USD 187 billion (EUR 163bn) in mini-grids globally, and sub-Saharan Africa is the main destination." 

Humphrey Wireko, Associate Principal at CrossBoundary - an investment firm focused on unlocking capital in underserved markets - joins us this week to discuss the challenges and opportunities in scaling up mini-grids in Africa. 

Recommended Reading 

Guest Bio:  Humphrey Wireko is a Ghanian American and Associate Principal at CrossBoundary Energy Access, a fund that is focused on unlocking capital to bring finance into the mini-grid sector for rural electrification in Africa.

Prior to joining CrossBoundary, Humphrey worked in the US for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, then after completing his MBA at Georgetown University, he joined the Boston Consulting Group as a consultant in South Africa.

Learn more about CrossBoundary Energy Access

Connect with Humphrey on LinkedIn

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Episode Transcription

Olu: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the energy talk podcast. My name is Olubunmi Olajide and I'm so glad you joined us again this week. This is the start of the most ambitious project we've had for the podcast because for the next eight weeks, going to be speaking with investors and CEOs from the African energy space. We going to be learning so much about the work they're doing and challenges they're facing and what it's going to take for us to get to universal energy access by 2030 on the African continent. 

This episode, which is the start of our series. Officially, we are going to be speaking with Humphrey who is the associate principal at cross-boundary energy access and we're going to be speaking specifically about their model for financing mini-grid projects for rural electrification. So just to give you a scope of the problem of as far as universe energy access on the African continent forecast by the IEA said that it's going to take $187 billion of public and private capital to get us to that point by 2030. 

It's going to be a huge challenge, but there are [00:01:00] lots of people who are at the forefront of solving this, and in this series, you're going to be hearing a lot from them directly about work they're doing and the challenges they face. 

In this episode, we reference a research paper, which is an open-source document about Cross Boundary's approach to financing mini-grid projects. This should be linked in the show notes of this episode, and I highly recommend you check that out. If you're. Just a little bit as nerdy or as curious as I am so without any further ado let's get into the introduction to Humphrey Wireko and learn about Cross Boundary's energy access work in the mini-grid space, enjoy the episode. 

Humphrey: [00:01:35] So a bit about me I'm a Ghanian American, so my family, my parents all, all from Ghana on both sides and me, I grew up in the United States. And so. When I finished undergrad, I had studied political science in university. And when I finished, I started working at the public utility commission of Ohio, which is a regulatory body that oversees the [00:02:00] investor-owned utilities in the state, including let's say water, natural gas, landline, telephones, and of course electricity.

And that's really where I focused in, where, whereas where I specialize was in the regulations of the electricity sector in Ohio. So then. After I was there for a while, I decided that I needed to go to business school. So I went to Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I got my MBA there. And after my MBA, I went into consulting in Africa, into management consulting.

So I joined the Boston consulting group in South Africa. And the whole time I was there. I just, I know that when I, when I was thinking about, you know, what I want to do, I knew I, I wanted to leverage the experience that I had.  In the electric sector and the passion that I developed in the electric sector.

And I wanted to work in Africa and I took kind of a, a two-step jump let's say to get there. So one was let's work in Africa, started with management consulting, but that really wasn't, let's say very focused on the power sector electric industry. And then from there [00:03:00] I had an opportunity to get to where I am now, which is cross-boundary, and here in my current role with cross-boundary energy access, which is a fund that is focused on unlocking capital.

To bring finance into the mini-grid sector for rural electrification. So being here gave me the opportunity to be kind of working across the continent on this problem this challenge that I'm so passionate about, which is, which is solar energy mini-grids and bringing electricity to those who don't have it in Africa 

Olu Olajide: [00:03:31] and now to let's go with this opportunity too, because CrossBoundary energy access is doing very unique work.

It's not very often, you see a fund dedicated to developing mini-grids in Africa. So was that a huge surprise to you at the time?

Humphrey: [00:03:43] It was definitely a huge surprise to me at the time. So like I said, I had done some work in the electric sector where I first actually heard about mini-grids was back. When I was working at the public utility commission in Ohio. And if you're familiar with kind of the United [00:04:00] States and maybe the way that they look at mini-grids a lot there, or microgrids often what you see is that they're thought of and used for systems like a university system or a hospital system.

I'm thinking about how you can maybe make those systems more robust or take them off the grid. But for me, with my background on the continent and knowing, you know, the places that I've been the trips to see family and, and the challenges with infrastructure and specifically electricity that I had seen at, for example, my grandmother's house, I always wondered kind of what would a mini-grid looked like in Africa?

And so when I was when I was, you know, when this opportunity came up and they said, Hey, we're looking at starting. A fund for investing in mini-grids on the continent. I was, yeah, I was definitely a bit surprised. I didn't think that there were people really doing that and I'm not, but I'm extremely happy that they, that they found me and that I was able to come into this role and I've been able to do the work that I've been doing for the last few years.

Olu Olajide: [00:04:55] Okay, so now let's, let's talk about the work you're doing. Talk more about cross-boundary. So [00:05:00] cross-boundary is a very large organization at this point and the energy access arm is just one of the work that he's doing. So could just describe briefly a little cross-boundary is, and specifically about the division that you're a part of.

Humphrey: [00:05:11] Yeah, so at a high level. So cross-boundary is an investment firm that's focused on unlocking capital and underserved markets and I think that that statement alone kind of covers all of the different things that cross-boundary does across these investment platforms. And some of the advisory work that you see it doing in some of these underserved markets across the globe.

Specifically CrossBoundary energy access, the team that I'm on we started in 2019 with a project finance facility to bring capital into the mini-grid sector in Africa. So for a bit more context, mini-grids are these kinds of standalone systems that provide electricity to a community.

So imagine you have a community that's a bit off the beaten path doesn't have access to electricity. There are about 300 homes there. Mini [00:06:00] grid developer might come through. They will, they will build a mini-grid. So on the generation side, typically having solar panels, batteries for storage, a diesel generator, to make sure you have 24 seven power providing a small percentage of the electricity there.

Also doing the distributions of putting in poles wires drop lines. Doing it connections inside of people's houses, putting a smart meter on there. And then all of a sudden they've created a very small or mini version of the grid that you might be used to. And they've for this community. They're providing power now reliable 24, seven productive power to the entire community.

And when they pay those folks are there are their customers. And so that's the typical mini-grid and these, these assets, we know that they are the most cost-effective way. To bring power to over a hundred million people in Africa who currently do not have access to electricity, but at the same time, we also recognize that these assets haven't been attracting the type of capital and [00:07:00] finance that they need in order to scale.

And so when we started CBEA CrossBoundary energy access, the idea was we think that through project finance, we can bring capital at scale into this sector. And that's what we've been working on doing ever since. 

Olu Olajide: [00:07:15] Yeah. Just for the sake of context for the listeners, probably don't know how big is the market for mini-grid technology and deployments in Africa alone.

Humphrey: [00:07:24] Yeah. I mean, it's a great question. I think that maybe one of the good references  is a study. I think it was from the IEA that said that by 2030 they think that many grids would be the most cost-effective way to bring power to over 260 million people. And so if you look at the continent today and you see that about 600 million people don't have access to electricity at all. That's about half the continent. And so saying that you know, over 200 million people are best served through mini-grids. And when I say best served, I mean, most cost-effectively, that should give you an [00:08:00] idea of the potential for this market and the potential to make a significant impact let's say, in people's lives.

Olu Olajide: [00:08:05] And something very interesting about that is how Africa has developed traditionally in terms of extending the grid and why these people are, being left behind to, to speak it's because what's attempting very hard to reach places and that has really affected how Capital is deployed to extend the grid to reach them.

And there's also the argument that those people are in low economic productive zones. So they don't have the most household income and stuff like that. So how has that really affected the work that you're doing at Cross-Boundary energy access and is that something that has been a major challenge to the work?

Humphrey: [00:08:36] And so, yeah, as I said, 600 million people today don't have access to electricity on the continent. And if you look at, let's say the almost 500 people or 500 million people who do have access to electricity, 96% of that is through. Main grid connections. And so there really hasn't been a lot of progress outside of those main [00:09:00] grid connections.

And so when you look at those 600 million folks who don't have electricity, I would say that your analysis is, and what you just said is, is generally correct, right? They are typically in hard-to-reach areas. And when you are far from the main grid, the cost to bring electricity to you, the cost to extend those HV lines, and extend the grid to these hard-to-reach locations is quite high.

Typically for the main grid, it might be upwards of $2,000 per connection. Right. And like you said, the ability of these customers given their locations and given them often have been, let's say in the margin, marginalized sections of the country, they don't have a high ability to pay for electricity.

And so that combination makes those customers very difficult for the main grid to serve, right. They're expensive to connect  and they don't buy a lot of electricity. So high costs, low revenues that is quite a challenging business model. Now, when you look at a mini-grid, a mini-grid can typically go out and connect to that [00:10:00] the same customer for half the cost or less a thousand dollars for connection or less.

But they still have those challenges. You just we just discussed having a low ability to pay for electricity. And so that's when some of the extra, let's say the extra effort and extra work that comes from a mini-grid operator comes to play. Right. They need to find a way to help. Increase the ability to pay for electricity in a community.

And so here's when you start to think about how do we bring in productive uses, right? How do we make this electricity? Something that it can actually generate money within a community as well so that you can have economic growth inside of that community. And then people can use more and more electricity.

And so. It is, it's a, it's a big challenge. It's the business model has, has some aspects to it that are still being worked on to deal with this challenge of high costs and low revenues. But that's kind of the exciting thing about the sector is that everybody is [00:11:00] working on these challenges and wherever you see huge challenges, there's also a huge opportunity.

Olu Olajide: [00:11:04] And I think this really frames the problem very well. So the next question is how do you attract people to invest in this kind of project because I think when people think about electrifying heart African countries, they think of it mostly as a social service as something that charities and grants are supposed to put money into.

And I think that has been the perception for a very long time. But now, now you're talking about productive using tech when it actually investments and a fund that hopefully has a generator profit How does this extra layer bring the challenge to work you're doing. And is it something that  the perception doesn't help?

Humphrey: [00:11:36] Yeah. And so one of them, one of the things we're working on here at, at CrossBoundary energy access is the idea of bringing in private capital investors at scale. Into this sector. And so that has definitely been a challenge that we've, we've kind of used a number of different methods to try to overcome.

Maybe the best reference for this is [00:12:00] something that we actually published late last year. We called it open source. And so what we essentially did is we shared all of the information that we have to date on how to raise private capital it's at scale into the sector now to invest at scale into mini-grids.

And so that is something that very critical to our approach. And so, as you said, this is something that I, I personally, as an individual don't believe that just having donor money in this sector alone will be able to solve the problem at the same time if you look at rural electrification and the history of rural electrification across the globe, you'll see that it has been historically subsidized.

Right. So if you look at how the United States or China or Brazil connected their rural populations to electricity, there was a significant amount, of subsidy there. And so similarly in the mini-grid space for rural electrification in Africa, you expect to see governments and donors step in with these types of incentives to [00:13:00] help private capital and private investment come in alongside.

And the two of them together can create an entity and a business model. That works at scale for both the government, which you're looking for, this, this infrastructure type good, right. A public good that delivers this kind of value to not just the individual customers, but to the whole country when it's there.

And you also have the investors who are looking for their typical infrastructure returns. I think the two of those have to work together in order to make this work. 

Olu Olajide: [00:13:29] Yeah. And thanks for referencing the open-source document. So, this would be in the description of the episode because I think everybody should take a look at it.

It's a very interesting document to go through. There is this particular part  of  the document it does read out so it says a quote. However, despite the momentum in the sector, mini-grid companies, I've only managed to raise about $350 million in equity over the last eight years.

This is less than 0.1% of the 1.8 billion of public and private capital that I forecast needs to be mobilized in the medical sector to [00:14:00] achieve universal energy access by 2030. So I think that is a very good framing for the kind of problem or the other scale of the problem that that this document is trying to solve and what cross-boundary has been doing for the past few years.

So What are the unique challenges that really add up to not being able to attract financing easily into the sector? Because there is a lot of opportunities, as you mentioned, it's a large market that's potentially meant to be served, but what are the complexities that really add to things not really going as fast as people wanted to, 

Humphrey: [00:14:29] and yeah, just to maybe go back to  that quote you just pulled.

I just want to confirm that that's, that's 187 billion dollars that's needed to mobilize this sector to achieve universal energy access by 2030. So a lot of money. And so what are the challenges that exist here. And maybe if we step back and we take a look at the framing of this sector and try to see what are the different powers and players, that and stakeholders that are really, really affecting it.

Right? So one, you [00:15:00] have the mini-grid developers, right. Folks that are going out there and actually. Finding these mini-grid sites working with, you know, governments to get the necessary permits, working with communities, to get, you know, a land lease and, and to get their permission to come out there and actually build a mini-grid within their community.

So you have these developers who are doing that, and then also constructing and building these mini-grids and then operating these mini-grids. So that's one. Very important stakeholder. Another one that's critical to the sector is government, right, this is typically a regulated sector when it comes to providing electricity.

And so governments are there and they are the ones who hold the keys to the permitting processes in each individual country or state or local area. Right. As well as the framework for how you set tariffs for these customers. And also  they're the ones who are outlining what happens when let's say hypothetically, the main grid arrives five or 10 years down the road.

And then a third party that you have here [00:16:00] is finance, right? Bringing in the capital. You know you have the finances who are coming in. They were looking better looking for their target returns and are willing to invest if you know, the business model matches what they're looking for. And so if you look across that sector, historically, you've had challenges across all of those three stakeholder groups let's say, right?

So from the developer and operator standpoint, we just discussed the fact that you have high costs. And low revenues, that alone makes it quite difficult to invest. But what you've seen over the last few years is significant improvement here, right? The cost of many grids the capital cost of mini-grids has come down about 50% in the last eight years.

So when you look at the key components like solar panels, inverters, Batteries meters. And you look across the board. The cost of these items is dropping quite sharply and they've decreased, let's say 60 to 87% over the last eight to 10 years. So that, that is helping with [00:17:00] these business model challenges.

And you're seeing these mini-grid developers  be quite innovative in what they're doing to help drive revenues as well across, their mini-grid sites to really close that profitability gap. So you're seeing a lot of progress there on the government side. You're also seeing quite a bit of progress, right.

You're seeing regulators in a number of countries coming out with frameworks that are supportive to facilitate investment. Right. And that means that they have a framework that, that covers the topics that I just mentioned. What does, what's the tariff situation look like?  How do you deal with streamlined permitting and then what happens in a grid arrival scenario or what type of customer exclusivity you have and where we hadn't really seen the evolution in the sector is on the finance side, right? Because you need capital that matches these assets, which is long-term. These assets are giving you long-term inflation-linked to cash flows, and they need long-term low-cost finance to match that infrastructure capital.

And [00:18:00] historically there hasn't been that type of capital in the sector. And so when you look across the board and you see, and you wonder kind of what has affected and what has kind of made it so that. The sector hasn't raised a lot of capital to date. All of those play a role, but seeing a lot of improvement, let's say across all three fronts now, and it seems like this today, 20 21, moving forward to the sec, you really have kind of a lot of momentum because you're seeing so much progress across all three of those fronts, but historically that's where the challenges of life.

Olu Olajide: [00:18:31] And this is, this is very interesting because Where you talk about, the needs to be patient copy too, and then you need to find the right financial institutions that can support the long-term view of this project. What kind of model does that translate into? Because I know project finance is the model that the open-source talks about.

So could you just describe what that is for people for the business who don't know and, and why that was the modal approach for cross-boundary? 

Humphrey: [00:18:55] Yeah. Another, another great question. And, and I would definitely encourage folks to [00:19:00] check out the report to get the full, the full detail, but all of this kind of lies in the assumption and the understanding that many grids are infrastructure, right?

So infrastructure forms, the basic physical systems of any nation like transportation, communication. Water and power. And so  what you need there, let's say from the public sector are  you know, the regulations we just, we discussed and typically often some types of subsidy for building and maintaining infrastructure and from the private sector, what that means is there's typically a high upfront investment.

And then the business needs to be able to generate steady returns over the long-term and you need that long-term low-cost capital. Now, typically. If you look at how infrastructure, in general, is financed across the globe that's project finance. And so what project finance does is it really fixes the risks and the cash flows for a project over its lifetime.

In order to bring the level of risk down [00:20:00] to the level that it matches the long-term low-cost finance that we're, that we're talking about here and in our case, it's actually blended where you've, where we are. We're blending debt and equity and concessional capital. 

Olu Olajide: [00:20:12] That's very interesting and thank you for clarifying that. So I want to talk now about the project because another approach that cross-boundary E-Access is doing is trying to bundle as many mini-grid projects together to kind of reduce the risks. So let's just talk about individual, cause I know you had some recent projects that have been announced that I'm sure that cross-boundary energy access is very, very happy about.

So could you just talk about that? So what kind of projects has your group is involved in and what are the success stories that have come out of that? 

Humphrey: [00:20:38] And so, yeah, I think when we, when we launched this thing and in order to let's say really make an individual mini-grid. So these are, you know, that mini-grid for the community that we discussed earlier with 300 houses that mini-grid might cost something like a hundred thousand to $300,000 or something along those lines.

Right. And [00:21:00] so to take that asset. And make it reflect a typical project finance investment, which is quite larger typically, right. 10 plus million dollars. We had to do a number of things. And one of those things which you just hit was aggregate, right? So we aggregated instead of financing the, say an individual mini-grid we financed a portfolio of mini-grids for a particular developer in a particular country.

And then we aggregate that by saying, look okay, now let's finance multiple portfolios into a larger facility. And that's how we got to commit cross-boundary energy access fund one, which was $18 million. And we were able to commit that across three different transactions. And so one that we, we highlight let's say a lot in open sources is one that we did with PowerGen renewable energy to finance mini-grids that brought power to about 8,000 people. And that's a five and a half million dollar investment. And so that was the first [00:22:00] project financing of mini-grids in Africa. And we were quite, quite excited about that.

And if you go through, I mean, I'm sure we'll talk to it, talk about it here, but the way we did that transaction the way we structured the transaction, the challenges we saw, and the innovative ways that we overcame them and the challenges that we've remained that remain are, are all of the things that let's say that open source document is about.

Olu Olajide: [00:22:24] And let's, let's actually go, go deeper into that now. So I think just for the kind of risk and the complexity of the operation cross-boundary is dealing with, there has been a need to be directly involved with almost every single part of the value chain for that. So cross-boundary energy access isn't just an investment firm.

It's also an operating firm. It's also through dealing with the maintenance. And so was that a decision that was made earlier, to do all those things? Or did that just come out of necessity? 

Humphrey: [00:22:51] Yeah. I mean, it really is necessary when you think about the approach and the project finance approach to these assets.

And [00:23:00] when you think about the nature of these assets. And so when I, when I say that what I mean is that once you have a portfolio of mini-grids, right? When, when CBEA invests in a portfolio and mini-grids, we actually own those assets. Right? So if you have a mini-grid, Providing power to two to 300 customers in rural Nigeria, rural Tanzania.

And you have, you know, 50 of those in, in the country. We own those individual assets and those customers are our responsibility. And so in order to ensure that the services being provided are on par with what requires it is important for us to be able to monitor the assets. And if you, you know, as you go through the open-source document, you, what you'll see is that we do outsource a lot of work to the developer slash operator, right? So the folks who built these mini-grids are often the best place to be able to do all of the operation and maintenance to go out there [00:24:00] and make sure that the panels are cleaned that the batteries are all operating as anticipated. And just to make sure that they and they do the customer service, the bill collection, et cetera.

And what we do is we really monitor them and enforce the contracts and make sure that they're performing to the standard that we've contracted around. And so I do want to be clear that, you know, we're not also on the ground doing the operations and maintenance. It really is the kind of the developers and operators of the world who are doing that.

And we, we simply monitor them And, and, and enforce our contracts.  So that's definitely out of necessity because of the types of assets we're dealing with and they are a bit more hands-on than let's say if you're thinking about a, a wind farm in the UK Which, which doesn't really require the hands-on customer management for thousands of different customers, bill payment, from thousands of different customers.

And just taking care of these distributed assets that are in rural areas across the country. So that, so, so that's kind of why that's necessary. 

Olu Olajide: [00:24:58] And also we've talked [00:25:00] mainly about residential. You've talked about the military deployed in or residential areas or rural residential areas, but there's also been this industrial aspect to the work that  was doing.

So could you talk about that and how are the risks different? How is the, is the mode of operation is different is we're dealing with a large corporate entity as opposed to a community of just regular people.

Humphrey: [00:25:21] So for CrossBoundary energy access, when we go and we set up a mini-grid in a rural community, we are typically bringing power yes.

To the households there. But inside of that community, you will have, let's say small rural businesses as well, which we provide power to that. I do want to make a distinction that's very different than a commercial or industrial customer. So. You know, as you mentioned at the beginning, the cross-boundary group is quite large and doing a number of different things in the, in the power space, on the continent.

And we do have a sister fund called CrossBoundary energy, which specifically invests in commercial and industrial [00:26:00] projects across the continent. And so  obviously their risk profile and the work that they do is quite different than what we're doing in the mini-grid space. Maybe largely tied to the types of customers that we have as a mini-grid company and that our customers are, you know, individual rural households. Whereas typically for CrossBoundary energy their customers are large corporations, manufacturing companies, et cetera, who, who are able to sign up to kind of more long-term contracts, but that is quite different than what we're doing here. 

Olu Olajide: [00:26:30] And I guess this, this might be just a subtle dig, but at what point does cross-boundary technically become a utility on the African continent?

Humphrey: [00:26:37] I guess another great question. And it probably depends upon your definition of utility, but I mean, right now, I think our focus is simple, you know, providing the service that we promise our customers and providing a high-quality service to our customers and obviously bringing Bringing the returns back to our investors right now.

But I think that would be highly dependent [00:27:00] on your, on your definition of utility, I guess, but I mean, look, we're, we are working to, to try to help close this kind of global energy gap that you have. And the fact that so many folks, businesses, and individual customers don't have power on this continent.

And we're just trying to see how we can use, you know, private capital to unblock this sector. And so that's, that's what we're working on. That's really what we're focused on.

Olu Olajide: [00:27:23] And Just to go back to something we discussed earlier the quote I gave. So 2030 is the goal that sustainable development goals, seven universal energy access by 2030.

And there's still this large financial gap that, that needs to be tools among other things. There obviously are other factors that are, that are at play here. So what have you learned so far and what  have been, what you've identified most as an opportunity to meet pigs? You're optimistic because I know that there is a lot, at least from my perspective, too, to be worried about as opposed to how I wouldn't do this in nine years. And how much progress did we make in the last 11 years? So how do you think [00:28:00] about that and how does press project energy access think about, 

Humphrey: [00:28:02] yeah, I mean, I can maybe speak more to how I think about this individually. And so you're right. There is a gap. There's a huge financing need when you look at the mini-grid sector alone and for us at CBA, you know, we started off with this vision. Having a model that can bring private capital at scale into this sector. I mentioned our first fund was 18 million, one, 8 million us dollars.

Whereas the need for capital that's been laid out is $187 billion. We're not even a drop in the bucket. Right. This is why we published this whole open source thing because the idea is that we, in order for this model to work. We need a lot of folks essentially doing this and doing it at scale, which was part of the motivation for taking the work that we've done to date and putting out this critical information, which is the [00:29:00] templates term sheets for the, for the investment documents so for the purchase and sale agreement, operating agreement, putting those out there, putting out a bankable financial model that, that shows the conservative terms on which we were able to raise senior debt as well. And then put out the white paper that you just referenced and then forming an investor group.

And so, so on the investment side, yes, there's a huge gap. And here's one of the things we're doing to try to play a role in helping close that gap. Outside there  continues to be a gap if we go back to that framework, right? You have finance, you have government, you have developers.

We just talked about finance on the government and donor sides. I'm extremely optimistic for a number of reasons there are some governments on the continent who have made a lot of strides in recent years in putting together frameworks that, that make it possible for investors to invest in many grids in their country.

And, and some of the notable ones there being Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Zambia, and there, there are others as well. And [00:30:00] so that's, that's another piece that makes me quite optimistic and something that goes right next to that is the donor work. And so when I mentioned earlier, you need private capital and you also need the donor funding to be right there next to it.

And so if you look at some of the examples of donor funding that have come into this sector Nigeria has a $150 million donor program from the world bank. Benin $40 million from the millennium challenge corporation, the U S Ford agency again, when you look at Sierra Leone, you see $44 million from the UK government Zambia, almost $30 million from the EU.

DRC has, you know, another, almost $40 million from the UK government, almost $150 million from the world bank. And so you see a lot of traction in the government and the donor side as well. And then when you go to the developers there again, I see a huge opportunity. And so According to reports you have in the sector and someone who we as CBEA [00:31:00] has, has done a decent amount of work with it is PowerGen renewable energy, which has over a hundred mini-grids. We're seeing global IPPs companies like Aqua energy coming into the mini-grid space, international utilities, like the French utility Engie also in the mini-grid space in Africa.

And then you have the established solar home system players like B box, and then you have the telecom operators, like Sagecom all coming into and doing work in the mini-grid space in Africa telling me that you have an opportunity there from the developer side. So when you look across those three segments, developers, government finance there's traction across all three right now today. And so I do see a lot to be optimistic about there and you know  the sustainable development goal, SDG seven, bringing power to everybody in the world by 2030 yeah, it's a lofty goal and has been kind of a stick in the mud that's been put out there, but it gives us something to strive towards and, and, and we will continue to work towards meeting that

Olu Olajide: [00:31:59] That [00:32:00] is very well said. So I just wanted to talk more about you personally now. So You have been with cross-boundary energy access for a while now. And what have you really found impactful about the role just for you personally? Because you're, you're looking for something that deals with the energy space you founded and is it  all you hope to be and how often do you get to interact with the communities that your work actually impacts?

Humphrey: [00:32:19] And so, yeah, I mean, for me personally, right. When I think about, I mean when I think about what's important to me, right. And what, and what I want out of my, out of my career, out of the work that I do, what I want personally, and I want it to be, you know, working in the power sector in Africa, because like I said, I think it's a place where you have huge challenges and wherever there are huge challenges are huge opportunity and it's a place to make an impact.

Outro: [00:32:44] Thanks for listening to the energy talk podcast.

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