SEATTLE, Washington — The International Finance Corporation (IFC), in association with other organizations, has arranged a $3.45 million grant to the Myanmar government as part of the Lighting Myanmar program. The grant will be used to fund a rural solar electrification program that is separate from the national grid. As a result of this partnership, more than 450,000 rural residents in Myanmar are expected to receive solar power to their homes for the very first time.
What is the IFC?
Under the World Bank Group, the IFC is an organization that promotes investment and private sector development in low-income countries. Its goal is to reduce extreme poverty and increase prosperity by creating opportunities. IFC works with governments of underdeveloped countries and invests in various projects revolving around different sectors. It provides advice and training so that low-income governments can get access to the necessary financial resources that they need.
Myanmar’s Electrification Plan
Myanmar has one of the lowest electrification rates worldwide. Approximately half of the population of Myanmar does not have access to electricity. With 70% of the population living in rural areas, many depend on kerosene, candles, batteries and generators for their everyday tasks. In total, electrification in rural areas is less than 16%. The lack of electricity threatens Myanmar’s economic growth. It prevents the expansion of infrastructure and industrial development. In rural areas, hospitals and educational institutions commonly operate without power.
Due to this, the Myanmar government began a National Electrification Plan with the objective to provide access to sustainable energy nationwide by the year 2030. As part of this plan, the government proposed connecting about seven million homes to the national grid starting back in 2014. The World Bank backed this plan, announcing that it would provide $1 billion in financial support.
The Lighting Myanmar Program
The IFC established the National Electrification Plan is the Lighting Myanmar program in June 2016. As part of this program, IFC is working with both international and Myanmar based organizations to create off-grid, sustainable and clean energy solutions. Recently, a $3.45 million grant was issued to create a sustainable market for solar energy products. First, the Lighting Myanmar program will take place in Central Myanmar where the IFC has set a target of the creation of 800,000 energy products by 2022.
IFC and Lighting Myanmar work with various manufacturers, distributors and government organizations in order to execute the development and distribution of clean energy products. They assist with market research. Additionally, they provide support to energy businesses and lead campaigns in order to educate consumers about cleaner energy products. They have already executed the financing and sale of 90,000 high-quality solar products. The grant will provide the necessary resources to continue generating these solar products as part of the Lighting Myanmar campaign.
Accomplishments to Date
In the span of four years, the National Electrification Project has provided electricity to two million people in Myanmar. It has done this by connecting many rural communities to the national grid as well as establishing separate mini-grids including solar solutions in remote areas. Aside from providing electricity to rural areas, the grant will generate jobs in rural areas that will stimulate economic growth. Thus, playing an important role in improving the living conditions of rural people in Myanmar.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the people of Myanmar need electricity more than ever. However, this grant will be able to provide the necessary support and livelihood needed for rural people in Myanmar during these difficult times.
– Abbas Raza