Powering Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa
Rockville, Md. – More than 100,000 public health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to reliable electricity and almost all of them lack access to an internet connection. Millions of people seeking care and treatment in Africa are at risk because they can’t depend on refrigeration for medical commodities like vaccines, the presence of lights for births or emergency surgeries at night, or the digital connectivity for communications and records management that modern medicine relies on. In short, insufficient power denies access to life-saving care.
To address this challenge, U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Power Africa has selected Abt Associates to lead the Healthcare Electrification and Telecommunications Alliance (HETA). This new Global Development Alliance was launched under the White House Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. The five-year, $47 million program will leverage additional significant private sector resources to install reliable, renewable power and provide mobile network and internet access for 10,000 health facilities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Abt is implementing HETA with founding alliance partners RESOLVE, bechtel.org (Bechtel’s social enterprise), and Orange, alongside a growing number of other companies, organizations, and foundations in the healthcare, energy, and telecommunications sectors. Together with Power Africa and the USAID Bureau for Global Health, USAID country missions, African government partners, and alliance members, facilities will be outfitted to provide renewable energy and digital connectivity to improve healthcare service delivery and support U.S. commitments made at the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations’ 26th Climate Change Conference of Parties in the last year.
The systems will include solar, battery, and other innovative energy technology, and incorporate mobile network access through cell towers and other infrastructure to connect clinics and hospitals. The HETA model will generate surplus energy to the facilities’ demand, allowing for nearby businesses, cell towers, and homes to access the excess electricity and provide reliable mobile access.
The sale of surplus power will generate revenue for system maintenance, incorporating financial sustainability into the program beyond USAID’s investment. Electricity off-take also turns health facilities into hubs for local development, giving people access to the power and connectivity they need to start or grow businesses, stimulate incomes, and create new communities of connection.
HETA’s long-term vision looks beyond 10,000 facilities. Part of HETA’s mission is to design an alliance that can continue without USAID funding support. Abt, USAID, and HETA partners are already looking to build the funding base and governance structures to create this independent organization.
“Low-carbon, climate-resilient economies are imperative for the future, as is providing quality health care and financial well-being,” said Abt’s Chief Climate Officer Eric J. Reading. “Abt is excited to promote both through this alliance with USAID, Power Africa, and private sector partners to leverage private capital to put energy in the service of development.”
About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a global consulting and research firm that combines data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people's lives. We partner with clients and communities to advance equity and innovation—from creating scalable digital solutions and combatting infectious disease, to mitigating climate change and evaluating programs for measurable social impact. https://www.abtassociates.com
About Power Africa
Power Africa is a U.S. Government-led partnership that harnesses the collective resources of over 180 public and private sector partners to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa, in partnership with Sustainable Energy for All, launched the United Nations Multilateral Health Facility Electrification Compact in 2021). The Health Electrification and Telecommunications Alliance (HETA) is a public-private partnership under USAID’s Global Development Alliance with a goal to electrify 10,000 health facilities by 2030 to provide clean, reliable electricity generation capacity and digital connection to health facilities across sub-Saharan Africa. For more information about Power Africa, please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/powerafrica. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Medium.