Investing in Communities: Powering the Way to Rural Economic Development

David Lecoque, CEO, ARE

Off-grid Renewables’ Smart Local Impact on Communities & Entrepreneurship

Michel Köhler, Founding Partner, the greenwerk and Dr.-Ing. Philipp Blechinger, Unit Head Off-Grid Systems, Reiner Lemoine Institut

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how significantly external and unforeseen incidents can affect societies, from the national down to the local level. Development patterns, capabilities and the needs of the least developed communities around the globe have changed and intensified.

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This situation emphasises the urgent requirement to improve livelihood conditions and their resilience towards crises. In our recent study, we explored the nexus between off-grid renewables and livelihoods and demonstrated how off-grid mini-grid solutions in particular are able to support applications that provide socio-economic benefits (see illustration below). For instance, various electrically powered applications can serve productive uses, creating the basis for smallholders, private sector activities and later unfolding local and regional entrepreneurship. Community services provide essential services like water supply or securing health care and medical cooling chains, which are an essential requirement for vaccines. Furthermore, access to renewable energy can lead to increased gender equality through improving safety conditions and health levels as well as providing women with more opportunities to save time and generate income. Finally, off-grid RE significantly enhances the opportunity of poverty or emergency affected populations to voluntarily decide whether to migrate or not. Thus, our findings have shown that the outlined nexus can substantially build the resilience of local communities, ultimately leading to an increase in income, reduced poverty, delivered community services or absorbed adverse impacts of climate induced hazards as well as pandemic emergencies.

Moreover, the global analysis of our study has shown that off-grid technologies can offer electrification with lower initial investments by 30% on average and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 50% on average compared to grid extension. In addition, off-grid solutions can be more flexible and reliable and directly adopted according to the local energy needs. Thus, they often represent a smarter and faster solution, allowing a cost-effective and clean way of quickly harnessing the co-benefits of SDG 7.

Our study “Off-Grid Renewable Energy for Climate Action – Pathways for change”, developed by the Reiner Lemoine Institute and the greenwerk., coordinated by the German Development Agency (GIZ) together with FactorCO2 and supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), explores CLEANER, CHEAPER & SMARTER solutions for universal electricity access by 2030. It can be downloaded here. Additionally, the webpage displays electrification scenarios considering investment needs and emission reduction potentials for grid extension, mini-grid deployment and solar-home-system dissemination until 2030 for 52 countries.


Schneider Electric is Committed to Train a Million People in energy by 2025. Want to Partner?

In Senegal, 200 women spread across the regions of Ziguinchor, Sedhiou and Kolda are learning about the operation and maintenance of solar energy systems. These Energy Service Agent training courses will offer them employment opportunities in the renewable energies sector. The goal is also to enable them to emancipate themselves by fully participating in the economic development of rural areas.

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It was made possible thanks to European Union funding through the "Women & Sustainable Energy" initiative, and the financial support of OFID, coordinated by Plan International in collaboration with Schneider Electric and its Foundation. This programme is committed to benefit 4,650 women-led small and medium enterprises and more than 20,000 women over five years in Mali, Senegal and Niger.

For over a decade, Schneider Electric has partnered with more than 150 local and/or global stakeholders in over 40 different countries to create programmes covering the latest technological developments and tailored to local job market needs. The Group contributes to providing quality training courses culminating in qualifications that address local employment markets.

Today, Schneider Electric’s objective is huge: train a million young people and 10,000 trainers by 2025 where the need is highest, where youth unemployment and school dropout are high and where provision of local vocational training is insufficient.

“Our Access to Energy training and entrepreneurship programme is a fantastic opportunity for people to acquire skills, find jobs or become entrepreneurs in the energy sector. These people can change not only their own lives but also the path of their communities, making a contribution to the development of their countries by bringing in new energy solutions that are safe, reliable and sustainable.”  Diane Le Goff, Head of the Access to Energy Training & Entrepreneurship Programme at Schneider Electric.

To succeed, the Group is looking for partners to set up ambitious programs to implement new quality energy training targeting many students.

Contact Schneider Electric if you want to partner:


Partnering for Productivity

Grundfos has been pioneering water solutions for 75 years, seeking innovative solutions to reach the most water-poor through commercially viable business models. As in rural electrification, this is challenging. To do so requires strong local knowledge and even stronger local partnerships. And we have started to approach these partnerships in new and even more innovative ways – pushing the boundaries on how to find the link between affordability and viability.

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Grundfos has the technology to bring water to rural communities, we have a strong distribution channel and a depth of expertise. Learning from the energy sector, we are focusing on drawing in the productive use of water and doing this in partnership with companies and NGOs who are present locally.

To explore this concept and develop solutions that draw on the water, energy and agriculture nexus Grundfos is developing multi-use water systems that will provide water for both irrigation and drinking and are scalable. The farmers will be able to increase the output of their crops, increasing the circulation of money in the local economy, effectively cross-subsidising drinking water for the local community.

The goal is that access to drinking water will no longer be a luxury but will become an everyday commodity.

By combining the right expertise to address the barriers faced by our end users, Grundfos aims to increase local productivity. We firmly believe that in order to secure a scalable and sustainable business model, we must challenge the way we look at the economic ecosystems. And we think we’re beginning to crack the code.

And let’s round off with a piece of breaking news. On 9 December 2020, we were awarded a grant from DMDP (Danida Market Development Partnerships under the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to test this type of hybrid model in Bangladesh with BRAC Bank and Hydro as partners.


Empowering Rural Areas & SMEs through Productive Use of Renewable Energy

Productive use of renewable energy is a significant driver for economic growth and social development in rural Africa. For Africa GreenTec, this has been our main driver over the past five years, where we have witnessed the positive impact that our Solartainer mini-grid based power plant brought to rural Mali and Niger. After bringing electricity to villages, we enable new opportunities for independent socio-economic development, access to clean water, decrease food loss via cooling, reduce migration and avoid CO2 emissions.

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One of our favourite testimonies comes from Nassou Oumar Keita. Ten years ago, Nassou left his family to look for better prospects in Europe, and on his way to Europe, he learned that Africa GreenTec was bringing electricity to his village, so he returned to his village to make use of electricity. Today, he owns two businesses, including a restaurant, where he processes and sells his own agricultural products and employs local people.

Stories similar to Nassou reminds us that electricity is the key component of economic and social growth and providing people with access to electricity gives them opportunities to improve their living conditions. Today, we have provided electricity to more than 25,000 people, 400 SMEs and created hundreds of jobs (directly and indirectly). We believe that high capacity electricity output is essential to enable productive use activities for welding machines, cooling chains, agriculture and other efficient equipment to enable SMEs in rural communities to grow, thus contributing to the local and national socio-economic growth. This impact is more pronounced through our latest solutions including internet, cooling, clean water, agricultural and women programmes. This way, we believe that we can create inclusive communities and introduce a sense of social inclusion, where people feel a sense of belonging, sustain the beauty of their communities, and are motivated to stay.

We deeply care about the impact of our work. With our contribution to 11 SDGs, we have developed an Impact Management System and work with the Technical University of Munich to measure and analyse the effects of rural electrification in communities and SMEs. One of the great sayings from Kiswahili states that “together we can make a difference”. Therefore, moving forward, it is eminent that mini-grid providers work together to address communities in a holistic manner with solutions that truly cater to local needs and promote the creation of SMEs.


Solar Introduces Stable Power, Bringing Economic Advantages to Remote Communities (Off-Grid or Edge of Grid)

In Western civilisations, people are used to having electricity. It is the most normal thing in the world to plug a device into the wall outlet and have the device be powered. However, the effort and infrastructure work behind this “normality” is enormous and most people are not aware of the fact that access to energy is the foundation for health, education, prosperity and therefore sustainable socioeconomic growth.

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Having no power is normal for millions of people across the globe. The 21st century world is driven by economical systems that are based on continuous growth.  Much of that growth is stimulated by technology and efficiency. This means people who have no access to electricity can be left behind, and can miss out on the opportunities reliable electricity provides. As a consequence, they often live in poverty without the chance to keep up or get ahead.

The necessity to provide power for those people is clear. The question is how can this be achieved, and which technology or technology mix can have the highest impact? Building traditional, centralised power supply infrastructures, based on fossil energy sources or nuclear power plants can be too expensive, take too long to build, and are not sustainable. Instead, the key is to enable people, communities, and businesses to be their own energy supplier with decentralised energy generation and distribution facilities.

Battery-based, stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) systems have proven for decades to be one of the most promising technologies to electrify remote villages. When well-designed PV systems are used to generate electricity, the initial investment costs are recovered within a relatively short period of time without further costs per generated kWh. The energy itself is sustainable, freely provided from the sun once the system is paid.

For agricultural applications, farmers can run solar powered DC water pumps to ensure higher harvest rates for crops like grain and fruits, as well as livestock.  With reliable electricity, they will have more options to improve their efficiency. For example, speeding up grain processing by using electrical mills.  Beyond this, food retailers will not waste fresh foodstuffs any longer with the addition of uninterrupted cooling chains. Electricity can provide access to reliable water, introduce new appliances or equipment, and generally increase efficiency in the business owner’s processes, returning higher yields. The same land will offer much higher returns as their businesses grow with the addition of sustainable energy.

In less developed parts of the world, weak national utility grids can cause a lack of generation capacity to cover a complete region with power all day long. The electrical generation and demand are out of balance and can require load shedding.  This means different areas of one utility grid cluster will only have power at different times of the day. It is common to be without power for hours at a time on a daily basis.  Sometimes this is scheduled and sometimes it is not.  This slows productivity down, impacting the potential yield of the business owner.  However, it also impacts the economic growth of the community.  With less yield for example, less jobs are created that could impact an individual who would have had a stable income for their family. 

In these common global conditions, additional battery-based PV power stations, connected to the utility grid can bridge these outages.  The solar system coupled with a hybrid inverter provides stability. Businesses can experience a short return on investment of the initial costs due to the ability to generate higher turnover with more independence from the national utility grid.

From a socioeconomic point of view, having stable electricity allows children and students to study at night and lets them learn about technologies, engineering, business management, medicine, law, finance, handcrafting etc. They can then learn how to use the tools to increase productivity, realise a better quality of life and therefore enable them to achieve health and prosperity. Better educated children will impact the future economic possibilities for individuals, for their families and for their communities.  Having access to efficient appliances and reliable electricity can also bridge the gender gap for woman to have more opportunities where traditionally they would have no option to provide for their families or become entrepreneurs. 

The technical solutions exist, providing great opportunities and benefits to global populations, but there are still high hurdles to overcome. The biggest obstacle is the lack of access to finance and resources for the masses in the developing world.  Conditions are changing, with new options coming to the market to make access to solutions possible. It will be a great goal for communities without access to reliable power, to reverse their conditions.  They can then realise the foundation for health, education, prosperity, and sustainable socioeconomic growth.


Large-Scale Fish Farm Catches the Sun

Transformation of the agricultural sector holds the key to accelerated growth, diversification, and job creation for African economies. In Mali, the agro-industrial complex Baragnouma shows that solar energy can be the cornerstone of a successful agribusiness expansion. Victron Energy, a world leader in battery inverters and solar chargers, and local companies have worked jointly to provide reliable and profitable energy solutions to this remarkable off-grid farm.

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A farm in Mali is stretching the boundaries of what is possible. The agro-industrial complex Baragnouma produces fish at a rate of 5 tonnes a day relying on solar energy.

In fact, there are nine off grid solar-powered electrical installations – all with Victron Energy inverters and solar chargers - which provide inexpensive sustainable energy not only for their pisciculture but also for: chicken, dairy, fruit and vegetables; a factory which produces animal feed; workers houses; and two small offices.

The investment made over six years in solar power are lower than the cost of the diesel which would otherwise have been used. And the solar installations save more than 400 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The installation was carried out by a Malian company, Sonikara Solar, with the support of Victron Energy. The biggest standalone installation provides 3-phase 180 kVA power to the fish and chicken food factory – which can be seen in this video. Other installations in this large farm complex provide:

  • 45 kVA for the greenhouses (water treatment and pumping)
  • 5 kVA for the egg incubators (poultry)
  • 10kVA for the poultry farm
  • 60 kVA for the fish nursery and lab
  • 10 kVA for the offices and conference suite
  • 10 kVA for further offices
  • 3 kVA for employee houses
  • 3 kVA for the cattle farm

The ‘win-win’ success of this project which creates useful employment; increases education; produces local food; as well as reduces costs and carbon emissions – is that it becomes a beacon showing the way ahead and demonstrates how technology can be harnessed for the future benefit of local communities.

Victron provides training and support in West Africa (and indeed all over the world) to ensure that the skills are available for projects of this scale to be built and offers continued training to equip solar engineers with the necessary expertise.

The Crucial Role of Education in Enhancing Renewables: The Micro-Grid Academy

Ensuring universal access to sustainable energy is a pre-condition to socioeconomic development. Renewable sources and off-grid energy technologies offer a viable pathway to guarantee energy security, equity and environmental sustainability in Africa, a continent in continuous transformation, with a sustained economic and population growth, a fast-paced urbanisation and a generation of talent who is leading a business revolution.

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This transformation requires energy and will require even more in the next decades but, despite the outstanding green potential, only 2% of renewables’ addition occurred in Africa in the last ten years.

In order to lead an effective and green transition, it is fundamental to build the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and technicians of the RE value chain. RES4Africa is aware of the crucial role played by education, and for this reason, training and capacity building has been a key pillar of the Foundation since its beginning. In 2018, RES4Africa launched the Micro-Grid Academy (MGA), a vocational capacity building programme to create a skilled local workforce to deploy DRE solutions especially in the rural and peri-urban areas that suffer more severely from the energy lack. It aims to train 200 people per year among communities’ technicians, project managers, developers, engineers and academic students. To date, the MGA has implemented 14 trainings in East Africa and beyond attracting more than 550 participants from 15 African countries. 

During the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum 2020, RES4Africa’s Secretary General Roberto Vigotti highlighted some of the Academy’s major achievements: among these was the “renew-ABLE against COVID” project, coordinated by Technical Solidarity and Electricians without Borders Italy to support more than 10 African health centres with the provision of clean energy to enable a prompt response to COVID-19. Only a few months after its launch, a 5 kWp PV plant had already been installed in a health centre in Kenya: the MGA played a key role as it provided the necessary training to local technicians and engineers who carried out all the on-field activities. Given the evident results that the local specialised workforce brings to the RE sector, Vigotti launched a call for collaboration to replicate the success of the MGA in West African with the support of local stakeholders: achieving the ambitious and more-than-ever necessary SDG-7 will be possible only by putting young people at the centre of the agenda.

Can Markets Meet Energy Needs in Humanitarian Settings?

There is wide recognition that energy access is key to meeting basic needs such as nutrition, health and security and central to addressing many other global challenges for refugees and displaced persons. Nevertheless, broader energy access beyond the supply of cooking fuels has to date failed to be recognised as a key component of humanitarian assistance.

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Ongoing security and climate issues, short-termism and budget constraints have resulted in a reality where refugees live permanently in places set up and run as a temporary solution without adequate (energy) infrastructure.

The continuous reliance on expensive and inefficient lighting and cooking solutions has adverse effects on health, security and the environment. Household air pollution and respiratory issues due open fire cooking, children’s homework done under dim lighting from kerosene lamps, and safety risks for women and girls collecting firewood are just some of the risks imposed on refugees due to the lack of alternative, cleaner energy access solutions.

To address this gap, the use of market dynamics to provide clean energy access is receiving increased attention in the humanitarian sector, with the goal to promote greater self-reliance and decrease dependency on donations.

The Endev Market-based Energy Access (MBEA) project, implemented by SNV in Kakuma refugee camp, Northern Kenya since 2017, is illustrative of such an effort. Through facilitating market entry and providing business development support to suppliers of improved cookstoves and solar-powered systems, the project works to remove market barriers and promote uptake of cleaner energy access solutions among the refugee and host community in Kakuma.

Sales results (9,000 clean energy access products sold between 2017 and 2019) and continuous private sector presence show willingness and ability of both host and refugee community members to pay for energy products for domestic use. In addition, a recent survey conducted among small businesses operating in Kakuma refugee camp showed that there is a market for electricity for business use as well: 73% would like to obtain (additional) electricity access to have longer opening hours and expand their product and service offering. 

Further work is needed to address the challenges faced by the most vulnerable households, for example through the introduction of cash-based programmes for energy. But the initial experiences in the MBEA project demonstrate the opportunity for private sector-led initiatives to effectively meet energy needs in humanitarian settings and strengthening refugee livelihoods. 


  • Energy SELF Portraits Contest Running from 21 November 2020 to 21 April 2021

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    Participate in the Energy SELF Portraits contest and contribute to the many stories that collectively shine a light on the reality about achieving SDG-7 and the many challenges that are being faced and creative solutions implemented every day.

    World Access to Modern Energy (WAME) has been documenting the energy access challenge through photographic images since 2017. The images have been created in an original format by professional photographer Marco Garofalo, and mainly collect images of families in their households displaying their electric devices. Each photograph is associated with some basic data (annual electricity consumption, cost, CO2 emissions) and a short story detailing the background information about electricity access in that specific context, paying particular attention to affordability and reliability of service.

    Now, the Energy Portraits Project wants to extend its documentation activities to all countries, both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, in order to document where we collectively stand on achieving the SDG7, as well as a means to highlight the different challenges faced and solutions implemented to meet the various local realities.

    The collection of Energy SELF Portraits will focus on different SDG-7 dimensions such as energy access, its costs and options, its quality, its environmental implications as well as how energy efficiency and renewable energy may offer solutions to the SDG7 challenge.

    The nexus with other SDGs will be given particular evidence in the collection and in the narrative. The Project offers the opportunity to collect stories where energy access plays a crucial role in a number of SDG challenges, such as poverty and hunger (SDG-1 and 2), health (SDG-3), education (SDG-4), gender equality (SDG-5), access to safe water (SDG-6), decent work and productivity (SDG-8 and 9), equal opportunities (SDG-10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG11), responsible consumption and production (SDG-12) and climate change (SDG-13). Energy SELF Portraits contributes to a better understanding of the reality and complexity of the SDG-7 challenges throughout the world.

    To participate all you have to do is submit your story here. In return you will gain visibility through the project and its partners and perhaps even win one of our many prizes.

    For further information please contact Pia Løvengreen Alessi at

  • Global Solar Council Virtual Forum (Virtual, 27-28 Oct 2020)

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    The GSC Forum was a two-day online event showcasing the potential of solar power to bring about a clean, fair and sustainable future and enable quality employment in all regions of the world, from cities to rural communities including in Africa.

    As part of ARE’s strongly increasing engagement with National Renewable Energy Associations, ARE and high-level representatives from the Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA), Mozambican Association of Renewable Energies (AMER), Solar Industry Association of Zambia (SIAZ), Renewable Energy Association of Zimbabwe (REAZ), Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) and Renewable Energy Association of Ghana (REAG) spoke at the event, focusing on solar PV in Africa.

    Contact: David Lecoque

  • Workshop on Techno-Economic Performance of Mini Grids at IESW (Virtual, 2 Nov 2020)

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    The workshop, which was part of the India Energy Storage Week (IESW), organised by the India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), featured Indian and international experts to discuss lessons learnt from the past decade of mini-grid operations in India and the way forward.

    ARE highlighted international lessons learnt on the deployment of mini-grids. 

    Contact: Jens Jaeger

  • Expo 2020 Dubai: Urban and Rural Development Week (Virtual, 3-4 Nov 2020)

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    The Urban & Rural Development Week at the Expo 2020 Dubai promoted effective models of delivery and technology for quality services such as water, sanitation, health, and inclusive finance to the ‘last mile’ – marginalised communities in slums and informal settlements – and brought together best practices from the private sector, public sector, and social enterprises to improve quality service provision to off-grid and disconnected settlements within urban areas to ensure opportunity for all.

    ARE highlighted the work of ARE and its Members in bringing clean energy access to the last mile by raising living standards, providing opportunities and enabling communities to build a prosperous sustainable future. [Video address]

    Contact: David Lecoque 

  • ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (Virtual, 24-26 Nov 2020)

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    The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) instituted the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF) in 2017 to support the investment and policy initiatives of member states in the regional renewable energy sector. Since its inception, the forum has proven to be the largest sustainable energy gathering in the West African region.

    This year’s event attracted nearly 1,200 registrations including energy experts as well as a diverse group of stakeholders, financial institutions and civil societies. This turnout highlights the collective progress in achieving the ECOWAS regional sustainable energy targets while emphasising the remaining challenges faced by stakeholders in building a robust renewable energy and energy efficiency market.  

    ESEF 2020, which coincides with ECREEE’s 10-year anniversary as a specialised institution with the mandate of promoting sustainable energy, raised awareness on the progress made by ECOWAS member states towards achieving sustainable energy targets for 2030.

    This year’s forum was co-organised by ECREEE and ARE, the decentralised renewable energy industry association delivering innovative clean energy solutions throughout Africa, and supported by GET.invest, a European programme which mobilises investments in decentralised renewable energy, supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria. ESEF2020 is also supported by GIZ and the Austrian Development Cooperation and sponsors such as Energy Catalyst and RES4Africa.

    Contact: David Lecoque & Jens Jaeger

  • OFF-GRID Expo + Conference (Virtual, 3-4 Dec 2020)

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    The OFF-GRID Expo + Conference held a successful digital premiere. In total, more than 500 participants from 46 nations took part in the three-day virtual event and engaged in almost 150 B2B meetings. Due to the pandemic, Messe Augsburg carried out the top European event on self-sufficient energy supply in digital form for the first time. The event brought together suppliers, speakers and users from all over the world.

    The OFF-GRID Conference on 3 and 4 December focused on innovative energy services and new developments in storage technologies, sector coupling and small wind research, as well as on the direct effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the off-grid sector. The programme started on 2 December with TechDay, which traditionally takes place the day before the trade fair and was an occasion to explain product applications to users in practical workshops and involve the participants in product and service training virtually.

    ARE and UNIDO ITPO Germany joined forces to offer a unique matchmaking opportunity for OEC participants. The aim was to enable OEC 2020 attendees to virtually meet potential business partners, public and private investors, political decision-makers and other interest groups in a series of selected personal discussions.

    Contact: Deepak Mohapatra 

  • [Invite] ARE Technology & Innovation Forum (Virtual, 28-29 Jan 2021)

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    Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, development, as well as climate mitigation and adaptation. In emerging markets, new high-quality and modular technologies, such as AI, advanced GIS mapping, remote monitoring, new control software and systems, as well as innovative energy storage solutions are helping drive last-mile rural electrification with decentralised renewable energy (DRE), such as clean energy mini-grids and stand-alone systems.

    These technologies boost efficiency of systems, increase their longevity and technical sustainability, help project developers better estimate demand,  increase financial sustainability of projects, mitigate climate change and help communities respond to health crises, for example via the deployment of modular health clinics for rural communities.

    If technology can be seen as a vehicle to achieve development, then investments and financing are the fuel that help drive its engine and bring these innovations to market. Investing in technological innovation is thus investing in the future of DRE sector, progress on all the SDGs and rural socio-economic development.

    In light of these recognitions, ARE will organise the “ARE Technology & Innovation Forum” virtually on 27-28 January 2021.

    The target audiences of the event are private and public stakeholders from or active in emerging markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific, especially technology providers, project developers, private investors, international funding partners and policy makers.

    The event is supported by GET.invest, a European programme which mobilises investments in DRE, supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria.

    The Forum will feature:

    • High-level discussions on the status quo of technological advancement to support rural electrification with DRE in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific.
    • Topical sessions showcasing innovative applied technologies that support the provision of clean, affordable and reliable electricity in rural areas and power rural economies via productive uses of energy.
    • Debate on the role of finance and support programmes in bringing technological innovation to markets in the DRE sector
    • GET.invest B2B matchmaking sessions to connect investors, technology providers, project developers, as well as other innovators in the sector.

    Register now

  • ARE: Women Entrepreneurs as Key Drivers in the Decentralised Renewable Energy Sector: Best Practices and Innovative Business Models

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    Affordable, reliable and sustainable energy (SDG-7) and gender equality (SDG-5) are key drivers for development and economic growth. While SDG-7 is necessary to power productive activities and enable socio-economic development, SDG-5 further catalyses progress, as women are more likely to reinvest their earnings in productive activities and vital services within their communities.

    To achieve universal access by 2030, new energy access policies, business models and investments must maximise the socio-economic benefits that electricity brings, while making sure that no one is left behind.

    At the intersection of gender equality, clean and affordable energy access and sustainable economic development, the connection between SDG-7 and SDG-5 offers an untapped array of innovative solutions and a pool of talents that gender blind approaches to energy access are likely to miss.

    By showcasing 17 case studies from ARE Members, as well as providing core recommendations for DRE companies, CSOs, private investors and international funding partners building on those, this publication aims to:

    • Highlight the essential role that women play in energy access and sustainable socio-economic development in rural communities.
    • Serve as inspiration for innovative gender-sensitive approaches to consolidate gender equality at each level of the DRE supply chain.

     The publication was published by ARE with the support of GET.invest.

  • AfDB: Exploring the Role of Guarantee Products in Supporting Local Currency Financing of Sustainable Off-Grid Energy Projects in Africa

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    The aim of this report is to explore the supply of and demand for local currency finance for off-grid renewable energy projects in Africa. Grid-connected renewable energy projects are also discussed, but only in the context of applying credit enhancement solutions in these markets. The research includes in-depth examination of markets in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tunisia. It also explores the obstacles that developers and businesses face in tapping into local currency credit and capital markets and analyses the extent to which credit enhancement in the form of competitively priced guarantees – of multiple forms – could entice local banks and other financial intermediaries to provide local currency debt finance to the off-grid sector.

    The research is based on an extensive desk-based review of publications on the off-grid energy and local currency financing space, as well as documents related to solar household systems (SHS), commercial and industrial (C&I) and mini-grid sectors in four countries. In addition to this, consultations have been carried out with 163 organisations working in the field. The intended outputs of this report are to provide information, analysis, and insights on local currency opportunities for off-grid energy businesses and projects, with the objective of stimulating private sector initiatives in the off-grid space.

  • IRENA: Quality Infrastructure for Smart Mini-grids

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    Mini-grids are complex systems dependent on different suppliers and used in different applications, often with high regulatory uncertainty over their installation and operation. Creating a viable market for renewable-based mini-grids, with prospects of growth and long-term profitability for investors, depends on establishing trustworthy quality infrastructure (QI) for the technologies and systems involved.

    This report highlights the crucial role of QI for the development of smart renewable mini-grids. Grid-connected mini-grids can increase power system resilience and reliability, while facilitating the integration of solar and wind power. Renewable mini-grids far off the main grid, meanwhile, can provide reliable electricity access for remote areas and islands.

  • SEforALL: Energizing Finance 2020

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    Despite significant advances over the last decade, electricity and clean cooking access continue to elude more than 789 million and 2.8 billion people, respectively, around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the severe implications that a lack of reliable energy access can have on healthcare systems, water and sanitation services, clean cooking, and communication and IT services. This has served as a wake-up call to accelerate action to achieve SDG7 - access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all - by 2030 to ensure that past progress is not reversed and that developing countries increase their resilience to future challenges.

    The Energizing Finance: Understanding the Landscape report, developed by Sustainable Energy for All in partnership with Climate Policy Initiative and produced annually since 2017, provides a comprehensive analysis of commitments flowing to the two key areas of energy access: electrification and clean cooking. This fourth edition of the report tracks finance for electricity and clean cooking committed in 2018 to 20 Sub-Saharan African and Asian countries - known as the high-impact countries (HICs) - that together are home to more than 80 percent of people globally without energy access.

    In addition to capturing finance commitments for energy access, this year's report provides deep-dive analyses of Rwanda and Bangladesh and proposes a framework to improve the accuracy and consistency of reporting finance for projects with gender equality objectives.

Please note that views expressed in the Co-Editorial, the In Focus section and the Special Feature of the newsletter, are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect ARE’s opinion.

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