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Under the Grid

Improving the Economics and Reliability of Rural Electricity Service with Undergrid Minigrids

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Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, hundreds of millions of people live “under the grid.” Such communities are within distribution company (DisCo) territory, but receive unreliable, inconsistent, and/or low-quality power that does not meet their needs—or they receive no power at all. These communities are thus undergrid yet also underserved.

There is a new opportunity to better serve these customers and their communities through minigrids that utilize existing distribution and incorporate distributed energy resources. We call these systems undergrid minigrids.

Five main steps define the pathway: a) promote minigrid awareness, b) develop business models, c) implement pilot projects, d) enable market growth and scaling, and e) evaluate and ensure benefits. Although this report focuses on Nigeria, the steps and potential opportunity are applicable throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa for the benefit of millions of undergrid customers and the DisCos and minigrid developers that serve them.