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THE WINNING IDEAS AIM TO ADDRESS THE MAJOR CHALLENGES THAT HAMPER AFRICA’S FULL DEVELOPMENT

The Award was launched last summer by the RES4Africa Foundation, the promoter of the Micro-Grid Academy, thanks to the support of Enel Green Power: the main aim of the initiative was to reward young African talents who, thanks to particular projects and initiatives, seek to address the major environmental and social challenges that hamper the full development of African countries.

These Micro-Grid Academy students were able to make the most of the training they received, they demonstrated to be able to return and amplify the knowledge they acquired by creating a real project to bring a concrete impact in their communities” states Salvatore Bernabei, “They demonstrated their ability to think out of the box, to be the change that is needed, and I’m glad today to announce the winners of the first edition. Congratulations Eileen, Elly and Norah: you have demonstrated that empowering the youth means empowering the development of entire communities.

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                          Note: We publish it here at eepBp so that lesson can be drawn. 

The Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund (SCCIF), an initiative to bring private sector-led innovative solutions to displaced populations and crisis-affected host communities, awarded four grants to companies that will use renewable energy technologies to increase access to electricity in refugee-hosting areas of Kenya and Uganda.

The four awardees, chosen from more than 70 project ideas submitted through SCCIF’s first financing window – a competitive call for proposals focused on energy — will implement activities that will benefit nearly 3,500 displaced and host community households:

  • EleQtra will deploy of off-grid workspaces in the Arua and Lamwo settlements in Uganda to provide access to “pay-as-you-use” appliances;
  • Moban Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCO)BiziSol and OffGridBox will establish a solar-powered solution providing clean and affordable energy, drinking water and connectivity, in the Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda;
  • PHB Development, Yelekeni Farmers’ SACCOBrightLife and UltraTech will develop a solar-powered hatchery and individual solar home systems for small-scale poultry farming in Kiryandongo, Uganda; and
  • Solar E-CyclesStrathmore University and OFGEN Solar will launch an e-mobility solution in the Kakuma-Kalobeyei area in Kenya using solar-powered electric bicycles.

Implemented by EnDev with Power Africa support, SCCIF is a financing mechanism of the Smart Communities Coalition, a network of more than 60 public and private sector organizations co-chaired by Mastercard and USAID that seeks to improve delivery of essential services to forcibly displaced individuals and host community members through energy, connectivity and digital tools. Worldwide, only 10 percent of households in refugee-hosting areas have access to electricity.

“Power Africa aligns its public and private sector resources to drive investment in some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most underserved energy markets,” said Mark Carrato, Power Africa Coordinator. “Our investment in the inaugural window of the SCC Innovation Fund captures the intent of the Power Africa partnership – together, we change lives. I congratulate each of the winners and applaud your work to bring life-changing electricity to these vulnerable communities in a commercially sustainable manner.”

“Globally, the number of displaced people continues to increase, with the majority of the world’s nearly 80 million forcibly displaced people currently hosted in low- and middle-income countries which already struggle to provide services to their populations. Private sector solutions will increasingly be necessary,” said Daniel Busche, EnDev Programme Manager. “The SCC Innovation Fund is designed to de-risk private investments in displacement settings, and for this reason, we are proud to collaborate with the Smart Communities Coalition.”

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Kenya has long been a continental leader in renewable energy use for electricity production, with the use of hydropower dating back a century. As a result of climate change impacts – such as higher temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns and droughts – water levels in various hydropower sites have been greatly reduced, leading to a major decline in electricity generation capacity. To meet this electricity deficit, Kenya uses thermal power production, a process that uses a significant amount of fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are both expensive to import – a cost which is passed on to the end user – and also contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which cause global warming.

To reduce its dependence on thermal power, the country has been making great strides in renewable energy generation from sources such as geothermal, solar and wind, in line with its national development blueprint, Vision 2030, which seeks to promote the development of renewable energy. To accelerate this process, Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018 made a commitment to generate 100% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020(link is external). As at 2019, 86.8% of the country’s energy mix came from renewable energy sources, with 45% coming from geothermal energy. The use of thermal power for electricity generation also declined to 11.9% in 2019. These achievements have contributed towards Kenya’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below business as usual by 2030, as outlined in its Nationally Determined Contribution, which forms part of the international Paris Agreement on climate change.(link is external).

 

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To make such progress, the government of Kenya has been proactive in creating an enabling environment for private sector investments in the renewable energy sector. In January 2013, Kenya enacted the Public Private Partnership Act to regulate private sector investments, hence increasing investor confidence. The government also provided investment incentives such as the Feed in Tariff (FiT) policies, which allow independent power producers to sell electricity generated from renewable energy sources to the national off-taker at a pre-determined fixed rate over 20 years. These tariffs have so far been revised twice to address investor challenges, which is a demonstration of the government’s responsiveness to the needs of the private sector.

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The off-grid solar and improved cookstoves (ICS) sectors in Kenya showed initial signs of commercialisation around 2013. The necessity for support became increasingly apparent to boost the sectors towards further market maturity. 

However, various challenges were hampering market development that included, but were not limited to, high upfront cost of good quality solar products, slow uptake of solar and ICS  entrepreneurship in rural areas, lack of access to finance, distribution challenges, inadequate consumer awareness, and inadequate, or lack of, after sales services.

The rationale for a results-based financing (RBF) mechanism for both off-grid solar and ICS markets was driven by the need to further catalyse these markets towards full commercialisation through fostering private sector investments. To address this need, the Energising Development (EnDev) programme designed two RBF projects to provide financial incentives to off-grid solar and ICS private sector players. The projects were implemented in Kenya between 2016 and 2019 by local fund managers, SNV Kenya and Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust.

As a result of the two projects, 1.6 million people were able to access cleaner energy solutions and 4,678 new jobs were created along the solar and cookstoves value chains, with at least 40% of these jobs going to women. The projects also facilitated avoidance of 97,900 tonnes of C02 equivalent. Moreover, the projects supported market transformation through enabling the expansion and diversification of quality products, enhanced business operations and credit management, growth and expansion of distribution networks, and provision of end user credits for solar products.

For more details, read the report on experiences and lessons learned from the Pico PV and Cookstoves RBF projects with an overview of the RBF model, activities, results and lessons learnt and key recommendations.

 

 
 
Source: SNV
 
 
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