Last year, the Tanzania-based social enterprise Simusolar raised $50,000 to finance its work selling solar powered systems to farmers and fishermen in rural areas traditionally excluded from mainstream energy provision. In the context of sub-Saharan Africa’s multi-billion dollar energy access gap, the money raised was just a drop in the ocean. Yet as a symbol of the increasingly transformational role being played by technology in helping finance the drive towards universal energy access – in Africa and beyond – it was a particularly compelling one.
For a start, the money was raised on the Kiva microloan platform. Kiva is one of a growing number of online crowdfunding ventures that are directing money raised from the general public (in the form of small loans or investments) to individuals or small businesses in Africa and elsewhere that need capital to grow. The $50,000 raised by Kiva attracted $25,000 in match funding from Energy 4 Impact as part of our Crowd Power programme, supported by UK Aid.
Distributed renewables play an increasingly important role in promoting energy access, already accounting for 6 gigawatts of capacity in the developing world, with an expectation of providing over 60% of new electricity connections in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. New analysis in Escaping the Energy Poverty Trap shows that national governments need two things to succeed in creating markets for distributed renewables: 1) institutional capacity and 2) local accountability mechanisms.
A thriving private sector in distributed renewables is shaped by effective government policy, from funding research and development to setting subsidies. This starts with a basic interest in energy access.
The number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled – from 17 to 59 – between 2010 and 2017, and many of the world's largest energy-consuming countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010, according to RISE 2018, a new World Bank report charting global progress on sustainable energy policies.
Progress was even more marked in energy efficiency, with the percentage of countries establishing advanced policy frameworks growing more than ten-fold between 2010 and 2017. And among countries with large populations living without electricity, 75 percent had by 2017 put in place the policies and regulations needed to expand energy access.
When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned. Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, but of economics. Renewable energies are now cheaper than fossil fuels. They create employment, do not pollute and provide countries with the amount of energy they need. Last week he joined several side events at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
GGGI is an intergovernmental organisation that works with over 60 countries. It seeks commitments among governments and private companies to switch to green growth—economic growth that takes into account environmental sustainability. The organisation, based in Seoul, South Korea, works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth. Its work does not directly depend on changes in administrations.