The World Bank has released a loan of $3.45 million, through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to help Myanmar's government fund an off-grid solar project, the IFC said in a statement on Thursday.
The agreement will allow more than 450,000 rural Myanmar residents to gain access to clean energy for the first time.
Half the population of Myanmar lacks access to grid electricity. In rural areas, where most people live, over two-thirds of households rely on diesel generators, low-quality batteries, kerosene and candles to meet their energy needs.
The initiative is co-funded by Global Partnership for Results-Based Approaches (GPRBA) and Energy Sector Assistance Program (ESMAP) and will be implemented by the Department of Rural Development, which will provide sub-grants to the private sector to develop supply chains for quality solar products.
“Energy access through off-grid solar technologies can play a key role in improving livelihoods and living conditions of people in rural areas,” Mariam Sherman, the World Bank country director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“The new grant will not only help deliver economic and social benefits for rural families but will also contribute to social inclusion by providing affordable, quality solar products and by creating jobs through the expansion of supply chains in rural and remote areas,” she added.
The IFC said the funding would enable the poor to access end-user finance and post-sale services, helped by the pay-as-you-go mechanism that is being developed in Myanmar.
“This is timely support to help people and companies in Myanmar amid the impacts of COVID-19,” said Jane Xu, IFC country manager for Myanmar and Thailand.
“Companies will be able to provide clean energy to those people in need, especially in rural and remote areas while creating jobs and income generation opportunities for retailers and local sales hubs, all to the people who need access to clean, affordable lighting,” she added.
The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, funded the development of Myanmar's first commercial market for off-grid solar energy services under the Lighting Myanmar program, spurring the sales and financing of almost 90,000 quality checked solar products.
By Sibel Morrow