Bangladesh yesterday struck a $172 million financing deal with the World Bank, which will enable the country to install 630,000 solar home systems in rural areas by 2012. Arastoo Khan, additional secretary of Economic Relations Division, and Ellen Goldstein, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, inked the agreement in Dhaka. The agreement is part of an ongoing World Bank supported project styled “Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project”, which has already helped Bangladesh install more than 600,000 solar home systems, surpassing its initial target of 50,000 systems. “More than a million homes and shops in remote areas have installed low cost and reliable solar home systems with support from the World Bank and other development partners,” said Goldstein. “Access to electricity is transforming lives for millions in Bangladesh and boosting the rural economy by providing more opportunities for village enterprises,” a World Bank statement quoted her as saying. The Washington-based lender has been supporting Bangladesh to implement the market-based off-grid electrification programme since 2002. Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL), a state-run financial institution, helps implement the project. Under the programme, partner organisations, mostly non-government organisations, procure and install the systems in rural households as per the standards set by IDCOL. Consumers enter into a microfinance agreement with their respective partner organisations following which the systems are installed. Currently, 40,000 rural families install solar home system every month on an average. Together with support from the World Bank and other development partners, more than a million systems have been installed in rural Bangladesh.
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