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Momentum is growing for powering healthcare 


By: Luc Severi, Programme Manager, Powering Healthcare 

It’s hard to think of a silver lining associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The health, social and economic consequences have been severe, costing millions of lives and billions in economic productivity. 

But the global health crisis has certainly given the world a heightened sense of the importance of reliable, accessible healthcare – not only for treating those who are ill, but also the distribution and administration of medicines and vaccines.  

Along these lines, in the past few years there has been growing recognition in the international development community that electricity is fundamental to healthcare. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only an estimated 28 percent of health facilities have reliable electricity. Without sufficient and reliable power, healthcare facilities struggle to provide critical health services. 

It is encouraging to see the energy and health sectors now coming together to increase action towards electrifying healthcare facilities and services in communities with limited access to electricity. These stakeholders are taking a holistic view at what is needed to enable investment and deployment of power solutions for healthcare.   

Exciting developments in 2022 

In 2022, we saw the first set of activities under the Multilateral Energy Compact for Health Facility Electrification, originally launched at the High-Level Dialogue on Energy in 2021. This includes the Powering Healthcare Nigeria Market Assessment and Roadmap developed by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Power Africa, which provides the government with a data-driven overview and practical recommendations for planning and coordinating the electrification of Nigeria’s underserved health facilities.  

Similar roadmaps are being developed by SEforALL for Rwanda and Sierra Leone, and several other organizations are developing similar assessments in other countries. In addition, several Energy Compact partners are now actively engaged in health facility electrification efforts. 

The Energy Compact is a true cross-sector collaboration, setting a target to electrify 25,000 health facilities with clean and reliable power solutions. By bringing together a wide range of partners – 20 contributors, including financiers, data providers, and project implementors – the Energy Compact aims to leverage resources and competencies from both energy and health sector stakeholders to deliver on a common goal.  

SEforALL is also tracking these developments through a database that captures health facility electrification interventions around the world. 

This year’s Healthcare Electrification and Telecommunications Alliance (HETA) announcement stands out as a potential game-changer in the powering healthcare sector. HETA is a five-year, USD 47 million programme established by Power Africa that will leverage significant private sector resources to install reliable, renewable power and provide mobile network and internet access for 10,000 health facilities across Sub-Saharan Africa.  

In parallel, the increased collaboration between World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency under the recently announced DARES initiative also promises to deliver a significant impact on health facility electrification efforts globally. 

Bigger, better, and faster: looking ahead to 2023 

Although momentum is growing for powering healthcare, there is still a long way to go. Tens of thousands of healthcare facilities globally still lack access to power, with many more health facilities suffering from debilitating power outages. In response to this, SEforALL will continue to leverage its longstanding Powering Healthcare programme in 2023 and beyond, by strengthening the evidence base and by filling critical gaps addressing the barriers that are holding back wide-scale deployment of sustainable power solutions to unelectrified and under-electrified health facilities.  

With support from existing partners such as Power Africa and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and with new partners including the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) and the UKaid-supported Transforming Energy Access initiative (UK TEA), SEforALL will expand its Powering Healthcare programme, focusing on:  

  • Improving data and evidence  

  • Providing global leadership   

  • Driving innovation 

  • Unlocking finance 

  • Providing technical assistance to countries  

In addition to building the evidence base through reliable data, driving innovation in delivery models and mobilizing finance will be key to accelerating current efforts. To support breakthroughs in financing and development of health facility electrification projects, SEforALL, along with partners Shell Foundation and Odyssey, will co-lead the conceptualization of de-risking instruments geared towards accelerating capital flows to the sector, guided by insights from a capital landscape study. 

We will also be setting up a small-grants innovation fund to support catalytic innovations that can accelerate health facility electrification interventions globally. This Innovation Fund will issue grants to small-scale projects and innovations that are directly targeting a key barrier holding back health facility electrification efforts, with direct impact expected for both project planners and health facility end-users. 

At the country-level, we will continue to provide up-to-date market intelligence and strategic guidance to close the energy gap in the health sector, building on the Market Assessment & Roadmap for Nigeria (published in March 2022) and the upcoming reports for Sierra Leone and Rwanda (coming in early 2023). In Sierra Leone, our work is leading to direct impact, as it has informed a project that will provide reliable solar PV solutions to key hospitals throughout the country in the first half of 2023. 

Lastly, advocacy and coordination efforts will continue to be essential to attract new partners to what is rapidly becoming a powering healthcare revolution. Together with our partners and key sector stakeholders, we will expand on our existing advocacy work by establishing a global Centre of Excellence aimed at identifying and addressing the key barriers holding back health facility electrification as part of our contribution to the Energy Compact. 

To learn more about our workplan and strategy, and for those interested in collaborating on these efforts, please contact our Powering Healthcare team: