(Reuters) - A South African village has become the first in the world to be powered by fuel cells, companies behind the project said on Tuesday, in a new scheme which could help remote areas of the continent access electricity for the first time. South Africa suffers from power shortages and state-run utility Eskom is struggling to keep up with rising electricity demand, while around 2 million poorer households live without any access to the grid. "What we have here is a world first,” said Chris Griffith, chief executive of Anglo American Platinum, which is partnering with Canadian-listed Ballard Power Systems in piloting the project. "Fuel cell mini-grid technology is a cost-competitive alternative to grid electrification in these remote areas and could accelerate access to electricity," Amplats said. Amplats is investing around $20 million in the "mini-grid", which will function independently from the national grid. The pilot system can generate 15 kilowatts (kW) and a maximum of 60 kW when extra batteries kick in, which will be used to power up 34 homes in a remote community in Naledi in the Free State province for a 12-month trial period. via Reuters.