Sustainable Energy Transition and Digitalization of Smart Mini-Grids for Africa

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The project will be implemented in Algeria, Kenya, Rwanda.



Lead: Politecnico di Milano

Overall Objectives

The project aims to tackle the African mini-grid sector as a whole, thus addressing the challenging topics of technological, energy planning, digitalization research and development and related capacity building, focusing on communities to be electrified for the first time (green-field projects), as well as brown-field cases where old mini-grids are repowered including renewable sources, such as Algerian, Kenyan and Rwandan national case-study.

Context: why is this action necessary

Currently, the needs of the rural population are mainly satisfied by using poor quality energy sources, like kerosene, biomass, piles or inefficient small diesel generators, that create pollution and limit relevant income-generating activities or industrial applications. The business-as-usual approach of rural electrification by mini-grids has provided for the installation of systems only supplied by diesel generators to lower the risks, as fuel generators are very cheap and fast to install, but also polluted and expensive in terms of operation. Instead, in recent years, hybrid systems combining renewable sources, batteries and optional fuel generator as backup source have risen attention for new electrification projects as they lower the operational costs, pollution, and support the energy independence of the local context. Furthermore, ICT has been used to improve energy systems and this has led to a considerable impact on the mini-grid sector with the development of smart mini grids.

What are the concrete actions that will be implemented?

The objective of this project is to study brown and green-field mini-grid together with the inclusion of digital technologies and fully integrated socio-economic models:

  • Technological Research: Generation technologies considering energy mix scenario
  • Energy Planning Research: Context and energy demand assessment
  • Digitalisation: Assessment and application of digital technologies at technical system
  • Capacity Building: Development of educational training and capacity building programmes
What is the expected impact of the WP?
  1. Increase of energy access in rural area and use of Renewable Energy Services
  2. Improve living conditions and social inclusive growth in local context
  3. Create innovation and jobs in mini-grid field
  4. Improve economic development and income generating activities
  5. Improve the local governance structure through the involvement of the community in the decision-making process linked with the energy system
  6. Improve long-term oriented collaboration between African and European funders of R&I and H&ICB
  7. Improve collaboration between Academia, SME, Energy Utilities, Government


The LEAP-RE consortium gathers 83 African and European partners covering a wide range of sectors: education/research, private sector, policy and funding. Together, they are building a long-term partnership of African and European stakeholders committed to fostering research and innovation for the development of renewable energy.

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