The solar home systems (SHS), a programme under the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development II (RERED II) Project is providing electricity to more than 50,000 rural households every month. With support from the World Bank and other development partners, the state-owned Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) through a partnership with the non-government organisations (NGOs) has already provided access to electricity to over 330,000 households.
Solar home systems meet the basic electricity needs of rural people, who would have otherwise been dependent on kerosene lamps for lighting. A recent impact evaluation study on SHS have confirmed increased study time for children, increased mobility and sense of security for women, and increased use of contraceptives and fall in recent fertility in SHS households, thanks to awareness from watching TV.
Building on the successful implementation of the solar home systems, the RERED II project will soon start supporting renewable energy-based mini-grids in remote rural areas to provide electricity for productive applications. The solar mini-grid project pipeline comprises 8 projects with a combined capacity of about 1MW. Targeting rural growth centers, the mini-grids are expected to contribute to increased economic activities in rural areas.
The project has mobilized grant support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide grant support to the mini-grid schemes in addition to the credit support from the International Development Association (IDA), the concessionary lending of the World Bank.
The project has started to support solar irrigation pumps replacing diesel-run pumps. The solar irrigation pumps are reducing costs of irrigation to the farmers and also helping to save foreign exchange for importing diesel.