HETA: Powering Health with Clean Energy in Africa
- Gaps in energy access hinder health service delivery across sub-Saharan Africa.
- HETA is expanding electrification and digital connectivity for thousands of health facilities.
- Reliable power and connectivity help save lives and build sustainable livelihoods.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, at least 100,000 health facilities lack access to reliable electricity and internet connections. This gap threatens lives when clinics can’t keep the lights on for nighttime services or reliably provide patients with oxygen. Without reliable power, they also can’t refrigerate vaccines and other temperature-sensitive medical commodities or use the digital tools that modern medicine relies on.
Ensuring access to energy and digital connectivity for sub-Saharan Africa’s health sector is in part a challenge of funding. Renewable energy systems, such as solar panels with battery storage, typically require a higher up-front investment, but they beat out fossil fuel–powered solutions for reliability and ongoing costs within a relatively short time. And they reduce the health sector’s carbon footprint.
Without sustainable funding and public-private coalitions, millions of people will continue to lack equitable access to life-saving health services. The Abt-led Health Electrification and Telecommunications Alliance (HETA) is designed to meet these challenges across the region.
HETA is a USAID Global Development Alliance (GDA), a powerful mechanism for activating private sector expertise and resources toward sustainable development objectives. As a GDA, HETA starts with $47 million in seed funding from Power Africa to catalyze significant contributions from other partners (donor, private for-profit, and non-profit entities). Together, we will deliver the funds and in-kind resources to design, install, and maintain renewable energy systems linked to mobile or internet networks for thousands of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
HETA’s approach considers energy as a service, meaning the health system pays for energy delivered, not equipment installed. The alliance seeks to create mutually beneficial relationships between health facilities and their energy and telecommunications services providers. The approach emphasizes the need for long-term operations and maintenance (O&M) of the systems—addressing an important sustainability challenge.
In collaboration with health facilities, public sector stakeholders, and private sector partners, HETA customizes system designs at the country level to meet each facilities’ ongoing needs for electricity and digital services. Facilities’ access to reliable power has numerous benefits. Where feasible, HETA seeks to facilitate partnerships that will enable sales of surplus power to businesses and families in the surrounding communities. Such arrangements help generate revenue for system O&M, supporting financial sustainability. This approach also opens the door for a range of productive uses of energy, from ensuring the facility’s ability to run state-of-the-art medical appliances to providing power for mobile charging stations or pumps to deliver clean water.
Over five years, HETA’s work will enable improvements to health service delivery and sustained access to clean energy and internet connections for healthcare providers across sub-Saharan Africa. The alliance is starting implementation in Eswatini, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania and expects to launch operations in several other countries in 2023.
To ensure our work reflects the innovations of a vibrant partnership network, HETA has issued an open call for concepts—seeking partners with market-based solutions to health facility electrification or digital connectivity.
HETA’s long-term vision seeks organizational sustainability beyond these first five years. Working with Power Africa and a diverse network of cornerstone partners, the team is also designing the governance structures and funding base for an independent organization that can continue supporting energy access and digital inclusion for the health sector well into the future.
- HETA’s fact sheet (read in English or French)
- How Can We Deliver Reliable Energy to Africa’s Health Sector?
- Why We Should Invest in Productive Use of Energy for Health
For more information or to find out how to join the alliance, please share your contact details with us: