BENINThe U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has announced a grant funding for technical assistance to help Beninese company Sherlock Grids SAS expand and improve clean energy access to rural communities across the country.

Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Acting Director said that the project embodies USTDA’s commitment to deploy innovative solutions that connect more of Africa’s citizens to clean, reliable power.

“By leveraging U.S. technologies, USTDA’s engagement will help mitigate the climate crisis while supporting Benin’s goal of universal electrification through solar power,” he added.

Sherlock Grids will work with Washington, DC-based technology provider SparkMeter to analyze the feasibility of bringing solar-powered minigrids online for tens of thousands of Beninese.

The project will also demonstrate the benefits of implementing a digitalized system to fully integrate and remotely manage multiple minigrids.

The system will consist of smart meters, digital models of the minigrids and their distribution networks, and software for real-time outage management, asset management, and planning.

“Grid edge technologies are a powerful but underutilized tool in emerging markets. By developing a grid analytics platform for Sherlock Grids, the utility can provide its end users with reliable power and ensure financial sustainability for the project,” said Dan Schnitzer, CEO of SparkMeter.

“We’re confident that USTDA’s forward-thinking investment in utility digitalization in Benin and throughout the region is a prelude to larger-scale investment within the minigrid sector.”

Tristan Kochoyan, CEO of Sherlock Grids noted that as a social enterprise, what motivates them is the impact electricity can have on rural communities.

“This is also very much aligned with our minigrid operator business: the more useful and transformative our services are, the more electricity people will consume,” he said.

“Both technological and business model innovations are key to trigger this kind of virtuous circle of economic and social development. We strongly believe that what USTDA is helping us achieve in Benin can contribute to solving the electricity access crisis for millions more.”

This project supports the U.S. government’s Power Africa and Prosper Africa initiatives.

USTDA in Algeria

Meanwhile, USTDA has awarded a technical assistance grant to Algeria’s transmission system operator, Société Algérienne Gestionnaire du Réseau de Transport de l’Electricité (GRTE), to modernize its electricity grid and facilitate the country’s transition toward renewable energy.

GRTE is a subsidiary of Sonelgaz, Algeria’s national electricity and gas company.

The technical assistance will help GRTE plan the development of an automated distributed control system which will allow it to integrate renewable energy from solar and wind sources into its grid.

This system will increase the efficiency of GRTE’s grid while strengthening its management of Algeria’s distributed power generation resources.

“Our partnership with USTDA will pave the way for us to modernize and digitalize our electricity network using the expertise of American companies that are leaders in this field,” said Nabil Yousfi, GRTE’s Chairman and CEO.

“Our electricity transmission network will play an important role in Algeria’s transition toward green energy. USTDA’s technical assistance will help ensure that we have the right plan, and it will be an opportunity for our young engineers to gain valuable project planning experience.”

This project advances the goals of USTDA’s Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure, which connects U.S. industry to major clean energy and transportation infrastructure projects in emerging markets.

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