19 November 2008 - This month, ARE lead a delegation of member representatives to Washington to participate in a number of scheduled workshops with; the World Bank, USAID, the IDB (Inter American Development Bank), the IFC (International Finance Corporation), the SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Agency) and the GEF (Global Environment Facility). The meetings attracted large numbers of interested parties from within the institutions, and ARE members enjoyed fruitful discussion with participants on their respective experiences and solutions for rural electrification.

The workshops explored how renewable energy and rural electrification are relevant to each organisation and the policies that are employed for promoting its uptake. The organisations expressed varied levels of experience. The World Bank, for example, has solid background and knowledge of the field. Others, such as the IFC and USAID, have focused less on financing small rural projects in the past, but expressed interest in expanding their reach and receiving concrete proposals.

ARE was also able to put forwards its own experiences and research as developed through our working groups on technological solutions and financing schemes. This was received with interest and the team took encouragement at the openness to innovative schemes expressed by some organisations in particular – such as the World Bank.

The overall outcome of the delegation seems very promising. The organisations are keen to maintain contact with ARE and facilitate continued information exchange on best practises, project design and funding opportunities. Enthusiasm was also expressed for further workshops – for example an ‘international business opportunities’ workshop was proposed in coordination with SEIA –. ARE was also proposed as a cooperation vector between different major institutions in the rural electrification field. Concrete proposals forwarded by members will also be followed up and the team is hopeful of some concrete results.

ARE is committed to providing a platform for these ongoing streams of communication and we look forwards to working with our Washington based partners in the future!