CrossBoundary Access
White paper
White paper

Open Sourcing Infrastructure Finance for Mini-Grids

Key Insights
CrossBoundary Access is open sourcing our investment approach for mini-grids to accelerate universal energy access in Africa.
Mini-grids are infrastructure and they need long-term, low-cost capital just like other infrastructure assets.
We are sharing a set of tools that we co-developed with our partners to unlock access to the $1 trillion global infrastructure capital market that mini-grids need to scale.
Time is running out to achieve SDG7 in Africa. Mini-grids have a critical role to play, but are not yet attracting the capital they need.

This white paper ‘open sources’ the approach CrossBoundary Access and our partners developed to invest long-term, low cost infrastructure capital into mini-grids in Africa, and what we have learnt from implementing the approach in practice.

We are excited to share the work we have done with Ceniarth, Rockefeller Foundation, the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), PowerGen Renewable Energy, and Standard Microgrid. We are grateful for those who have directly supported it – Shell Foundation, UKaid, and DOEN Foundation. Finally, we are grateful for those who have partnered with us on it – Norton Rose Fulbright, Foley Hoag and Camco Clean Energy.

We also want to recognize upfront that there are at least four good reasons why we might have chosen not to publish this paper.

First, we know that open sourcing CrossBoundary Access’ documents will help create competing financing facilities. But we believe the competition this poses to CrossBoundary Access’ own future growth is far outweighed by the potential to accelerate progress towards the goal we share with our competitors of delivering affordable and reliable power for all by 2030.

Second, we are aware that an uncharitable reader may interpret this paper as us claiming we invented project finance. We certainly did not.  And we certainly do not believe we did! But we do think that we have created valuable intellectual property in adapting traditional project finance for the distributed nature of mini-grid assets. We are excited to share that knowledge.

Third, this paper might imply project finance is the only way to finance mini-grids at scale and that we’ve solved mini-grid financing. We do not believe that. We do believe that unlocking project finance for mini-grids is an important innovation. But we also believe that it is just one innovation of many that will be required for mini-grids to fulfill their potential.

Finally, we might give the impression that finance is the last or most important piece of the mini-grid puzzle. It is not. We know that finance doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is only possible for finance to make an impact because there are developers to build and operate mini-grids, governments who pass innovative regulation for mini-grids, and donors who bridge the sector to scale. We hope open sourcing our approach to our particular part of the puzzle will help the rest of the sector to achieve our shared goal.

Stepping back, we did not believe any of these were good reasons to not share this knowledge. We hope you agree.

Click here to download CrossBoundary Access’ Open Sourcing Infrastructure Finance for Mini-Grids white paper