Shell has granted $1.7 million to six companies providing electricity in Nigeria, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda to support customers in financial difficulty because of the pandemic.
The grants made to the companies, of which Shell is a minority investor in them, D.light, PowerGen, Husk Power Systems, Orb Energy and SolarNow, Shell said, will help their customers pay for electricity for up to six months, and contribute to the installation of solar power systems in hospitals and schools.
The grants will also support customers of RVE.SOL, a company that Shell partners with to deliver social investment programmes providing access to energy in east Africa. Through these companies’ existing customer networks, Shell’s grants will reach up to 700,000 people.
“Working jointly with our partners, we want to help families, communities and businesses keep the lights on and mitigate the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their lives,” said Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have less money available for electricity to power lights, fans, fridges, or other appliances. In Kenya, for example, around 59% of lower-income customers of off-grid energy companies said their financial situation had become much worse since the start of the pandemic, according to research by impact measurement company 60 Decibels.
“With COVID-19, the key is to help families and entrepreneurs weather this hardship, particularly those in vulnerable locations, so that innovation and income creation can continue,” said Vivian Vendeirinho, CEO of RVE.SOL.
“Shell’s grant to RVE.SOL’s customers will help maintain access to reliable electricity and enable people and small businesses to thrive.”
In Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria, Shell’s grants to d.light, Husk Power Systems, PowerGen, SolarNow and RVE.SOL are subsidizing the energy bills of more than 110,000 households under heightened financial pressure because of the pandemic.
One customer of d.light, Livingstone Ssematiba, bought a solar system to power his home in Uganda in January. Two months later the country went into lockdown and Ssematiba, a father of three young children, lost his job. “The payments from Shell and d.light are a real blessing,” he said.
In Kenya, Sierra Leone and India, PowerGen, SolarNow and Orb Energy are installing solar power systems in more than 30 hospitals and community institutions, including orphanages and schools, free of charge or at discounted rates.
A World Health Organization review found that in 11 sub-Saharan countries, only 28% of health facilities and 34% of hospitals had reliable access to electricity.
By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja