European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed an agreement to advance African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) 2.74 million U.S. dollars to boost training in the energy sector. A statement from the Nairobi-based ATI received on Monday said once the EIB initiative is fully realized, it will facilitate projects that can offer African countries with sustainable cleaner energy alternatives to support their energy needs. ATI's Chief Executive Officer George Otieno said the demand for clean, affordable and sustainable energy solutions is a priority for most of the continent. "We are pleased to be part of this EIB-led initiative because it has the potential to have real impact both at the level of investments and on improving the quality of life for millions of people in Africa," said Otieno. There is close to 600 million people out of a total population of 1 billion that do not have access to electricity in Africa. This leaves millions reliant on dangerous options such as kerosene lanterns and charcoal stoves, which causes nearly 1.4 million premature deaths from respiratory illnesses, according to the World Health Organisation. Energy experts acknowledge that low incomes have kept millions of Africans away from clean fuels. Statistics from Kenya's Ministry of Energy indicate that 78 percent of households in the East African nation use wood fuel and have stuck to three-stone method of cooking. "These people are using firewood, animal and plant waste not because they want but due to low incomes. Clean energy to them is non-existent because they cannot access it," Global Village Energy Partnerships CEO Ben Good said last month. EIB deputy director, Jean-Christophe Laloux said the first phase of the partnership that will see ATI, a recognized African institution with expertise in risk mitigation on investments, receive 2.74 million dollar grant. He noted that ATI will use the grant to obtain specialist skills in originating and underwriting energy sector projects. "Investment in energy is essential for economic growth and quality of life in Africa. We are pleased to support this new engagement by the ATI to improve key skills and understanding of energy investment will strengthen implementation of key energy projects," said Laloux. ATI is expected to become one of the key partners and members in Africa for the Africa Energy Guarantee Fund (AEGF), which aims to enhance access to proper risk mitigation and credit enhancement tools for energy sector projects in Africa upon completion of the first phase of the agreement. EIB devised AEGF in response to the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative while several other leading African financial institutions are lined up to participate along with ATI.