Research project

Renewable Energy for Resilient Healthcare Systems in Rural Areas

This contributes to reliable access to off-grid energy for healthcare facilities in Nigeria effectively to combat the pandemic, building on CEPMLP’s network of local policymakers and academics.

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Start date

June 2021

Completion date

June 2021

As the country has started to benefit from COVID-19 pilot investments in solar power, this project considers key challenges to roll out such investments at sustainable scale in rural Nigeria. By collaborating with partners, the project identifies and disseminates business models to deal with cost of installation and use, operation, storage and regulation, enabling healthcare facilities in rural Nigeria to adopt off-grid power, establishing partnerships for future development-related funding.

Nigeria is amongst the African countries with a higher number of COVID-19 cases. Healthcare facilities, particularly in rural communities, often lack access to basic, reliable electricity to power water pumps, ventilators, and refrigerated vaccines. The COVID-19 Solar Relief Fund has invested in solar power coupled with battery storage as a technical solution for healthcare facilities. However, the conditions to make such investment sustainable and roll it out across rural communities need investigation in light of Nigeria’s regulatory environment for the solar off-grid sector.

The project aims to contribute to reliable access to secure off-grid renewable power for healthcare facilities in Nigeria responding to the pandemic. The objective is to develop and recommend a set of tailored business models for use by public and private facilities that overcome economic, operational and regulatory barriers. A further objective is to contribute to the country’s plans for rural electrification. The third objective is to optimise financial support mechanisms, both Nigerian and international.

The research applies a mixed methodology, and there are three cornerstone activities:

First, interdisciplinary research will identify business models’ economic and operational building blocks for health facilities in rural Nigeria using renewably generated power. The project will rely on a structured literature review, integrated with inputs from remote interviews with 20-30 key stakeholders (RE sector, public health centres, private hospitals, government, and local communities). Nigerian partners will facilitate these interviews, and the RA will provide transcripts. The results will be tested in online meetings with an advisory board to provide an external perspective, consisting of academics from the universities of Lagos and Ibadan and representatives of the African Development Bank with whom CEPMLP cooperates. The analysis will result in a peer-reviewed paper and a policy brief.

Second, for knowledge exchange, findings on sustainable business models will be discussed in an online workshop with policy-makers on rural electrification in Nigeria. This is expected to immediately influence the Nigerian participants devising strategy to use off-grid power to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Longer-term, this will aid the electrification in remote areas, replicable in other African countries.

Third, the ultimate beneficiaries of the research are health care facilities. Only business models tailored to their reality of installation, maintenance and operational costs, small budgets, fiscal incentives, limited ability of patients to pay and regulatory requirements will enable them to adopt off-grid power. The project will conduct a dissemination pilot study with facilities in Oyo, Kaduna and Rivers states where SRF has been providing funding, in small groups using the partners’ venues.

Project type

Research project