Power to the People：Electrify Africa Now
n Cote d'Ivoire， children carry backpacks to school with built-in solar panels. When they get home， they plug the panels into lamps so they can do their homework.
On the other side of the continent， rural households pay as little as 50 cents a day for solar electricity systems that power three lights，five phone-charging connections and a radio.
Across Africa， these and many other ingenious solutions are helping to meet the continent's huge energy needs much faster than conventional means.
That speed is critical. Africa's energy needs are not only huge， but they are also urgent. Day after day， the continent's lack of modern energy is holding back economic growth， job creation， sustainable agriculture，health and education.
The challenge for governments， their development partners and the private sector is how to electrify millions of African households，remote communities and small-scale entrepreneurs as quickly as possible. To meet that challenge， countries need to consider every available option， including off-grid household systems and mini-grids， as well as the expansion of national grids.
New technologies offer promising ways to close Africa's energy gap more quickly than would be possible by relying on grid connections alone. Off-grid solar power and mini-grids， as standalone sources of energy generating power where it's needed， have vast potential to advance access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Off-grid solar products can act as rungs on an“energy ladder”，providing a range of energy services to households and enterprises with different energy needs and incomes. Families can take advantage of innovative pay-as-you-go schemes， often using mobile phone payment to move from solar lighting onto systems that are a step-up and able to generate enough power for several household appliances.
Community services such as schools and health clinics can also be powered using off-grid solar energy， which can also improve the productivity of farms and small companies. Technological innovation means that mini-grids can also offer sustainable permanent alternatives， especially as reliable and affordable products come on-stream that are attractive to small and medium-sized enterprises operating far from the national grid.
In short， off-grid and mini-grid power has a crucial role to play in meeting the three great energy challenges that African governments face: providing all their citizens with access to secure and affordable energy; building the energy infrastructure needed to drive inclusive growth and create jobs; and limiting carbon emissions.
To make that happen， African governments need to support the development of an enabling environment through which companies can enter energy generation， transmission and distribution markets， climb the value chain and build the investment partnerships that can drive growth and create jobs.
To tap the potential of new energy technologies， African governments need all the support they can get. Bilateral and multilateral donors have pledged billions of dollars to Africa's energy transition， but little of that money is moving yet. Donors need to realize that Africa's energy imperative is urgent.
On-grid and off-grid， we have the technologies that Africa needs to bring energy to everyone. Let's get to work.