CrossBoundary Energy Access (CBEA) will invest an initial $16 million in mini-grids designed to serve a hundred and seventy thousand people, with a focus on countries with supportive mini-grid regulatory frameworks such as Tanzania, Nigeria, and Zambia. By blending private-sector development and investment with patient capital from impact investors such as Ceniarth and development-focused debt from institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation, CBEA hopes to unlock more than $11 billion to accelerate the buildout of mini-grids and connect at least a hundred million Africans to power.
According to CrossBoundary Energy, more than six hundred million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. Mini-grids require a significant upfront investment but deliver predictable returns over a ten- to fifteen-year period. Scaling them commercially, however, requires affordable, long-term capital with lower-yield expectations. CBEA's blended finance structure is important in that it helps bridge the private capital funding gap, enabling private investors to commit funds to projects directly. The Shell Foundation and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, through the latter's Transforming Energy Access program, provided support for the design and launch of CBEA.
"We're proud and excited to be an early investor in the CBEA facility because it represents an ambitious, concrete effort to realize the comparative advantage mini-grids have to serve over a hundred million people in Africa," said Ashvin Dayal, managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation's Power program. "The opportunity cost of energy poverty is huge, both in terms of suppressed human well-being and lost economic development. We believe that CBEA brings a much-needed sense of urgency and provides a platform for more effective public- and private-sector coordination that can transform the pace of last-mile electrification."