From energy access to prosperity: How DRE can transform rural communities

David Lecoque, CEO, ARE

Business support is helping more rural enterprises in Tanzania capitalise on access to electricity

Rural businesses in newly electrified parts of northern and southwestern Tanzania are seizing the opportunities enabled by energy to develop their commercial activities. Through a package of support services from Energy 4 Impact, alongside access to electric tools and appliances, these enterprises are now in a stronger position to offer improved goods and services to their communities as well as create local jobs.

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As part of a renewed collaboration between Energy 4 Impact, Multiconsult Norge AS and the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency (REA), Energy 4 Impact is promoting the uptake of electricity for commercial purposes in Arusha, Songwe and Mbeya regions to improve the viability and impact of REA’s Rural Electrification Densification Project (REDP). Besides galvanising socio-economic development, stimulating the use of energy for productive uses is essential to making the provision of rural energy a sustainable profit-generating business.

Since the second phase of the programme got underway in December 2021, 600 businesses have received a package of support services ranging from identification and assessment of potential opportunities for productive uses, training and mentoring services, market information and linkages, technology and appliances training, plus facilitating access to finance through local microfinance institutions.

High quality mentoring is at the heart of this collaboration, but the pathway through the programme is different for each entrepreneur. As Edward Massawe, Business Development Services Coordinator for Energy 4 Impact, explains, “The entrepreneurs were typically not well-equipped to take advantage of electricity connection and so each required a bespoke workplan aimed at addressing business and technical gaps. Moreover, their plans for expansion and diversification needed to line up with business opportunities in their locations.”

Ms. Nice Sokoine is a food vendor who previously only used electricity for lighting but was keen to boost her turnover by investing in electrical appliances that would allow her to offer new products. After market research, Nice agreed with her mentor to diversify into selling cold drinks and fresh juices. She worked closely with her mentor on improving her financial management, including separating her personal and business finances, before approaching a microfinance institution for a group loan together with eight other women entrepreneurs who served as each other’s guarantors. After receiving a loan for the purchase of a fridge and blender, sales from her expanded range of products enabled Nice to more than double her monthly income.

Energy 4 Impact is now strengthening their working relationships with key Tanzanian partners such as REA and electricity utility TANESCO to ensure this kind of demand stimulation approach is embedded in more rural electrification projects in future.

Read the full article here: Business support is helping more rural enterprises in Tanzania to capitalise on access to electricity | Energy 4 Impact


Clean water powered by the sun for sustainable life in remote arid lands

Water from the Caynabo well is now safe to drink, thanks to the Italian company Genius Watter, which was chosen to help implement a project funded by UNDP - United Nations Development Program in Somaliland, Horn of Africa. 

Genius Watter has been identified as a strategic partner by Aptech Africa, a Uganda-based company that won the UNDP tender to build an off-grid solar water desalination plant in Caynabo, in the Sool region of Somaliland, an arid territory in an isolated area of the plateau.

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The Horn of Africa has experienced the worst drought in a decade, with five consecutive failed rainy seasons. According to the UN, since the start of 2021, 1.3 million people in Somalia have been forced to migrate to seek food and water, and the number has been worryingly growing.

Within the UNDP-funded Caynabo project, Genius Watter was entrusted with the design, testing, start-up, remote monitoring and maintenance. Prior to the water plant installation, potable water was transported by water trucks from a town located 2 hours away, at a high cost that the poorer population could not afford so they had to rely on the contaminated and saline water from the well, leading to health and hygiene problems. Since April 2022, the new solar desalination plant has been providing about 50,000 litres of safe drinking water every day at an affordable price to the people of Caynabo and small neighboring villages, totaling about 10,000 people.

The implemented solution is based on the company's proprietary solar-powered reverse osmosis desalination technology. The entire system is containerised and automated, operates in perfect synchrony with the sun, and guarantees high performance for a long time. The system can be monitored and managed remotely. For any technical issues and onsite maintenance, Genius Watter trains local personnel who can intervene on the plants, always with support from the headquarters in Italy, 24/7.

The success of this project lies, indeed, in cooperation and the transfer of know-how. Genius Watter trained the project partners, Aptech Africa and Seccco, a Somali company in the photovoltaic sector, on the technological features and operation of the desalination plant in preparation for its installation and subsequent onsite activities.

"We are proud to have contributed to improving the quality of life of the Caynabo community sustainably. Knowing that what you do can change the lives of thousands of people gives you an unparalleled motivational boost. We will continue to take our technology around the world where it is needed." says Dario Traverso, CEO of Genius Watter.


Solar cold rooms for Nigerian markets

The SelfChill team together with local partner Ecotutu Ltd implements solar cold rooms in Nigeria. The first solar cold rooms have been installed with smallholder farmers and for research purposes. Now a cold room is set-up at a central market in Lagos to offer cooling services to food sellers.

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In Nigeria, more than 85% of agricultural land is cultivated by smallholders. Most of them live and work in rural, non-electrified areas. Post-harvest losses due to lack of cooling are up to 50% along the value chain until the products reach consumers. The need for off-grid cooling systems is enormous.

For the Nigerian market, the SelfChill team focuses on solar cold rooms. The standard system configuration of SelfChill is the Cold Room 20. In the 20m³ SelfChill cold room, 500 kg of goods (fruits, vegetables, seeds etc) can be cooled down to 4°C. Due to the solar power supply and integrated ice storage, the cooling solutions run independently of any infrastructure.

Together with the local solar engineering company Ecotutu Ltd, SelfChill works on a distribution strategy to offer SelfChill Cold Rooms made in Nigeria. That means that the core components (solar cooling units that are developed by SelfChill Germany) are being imported. These cooling units are then installed by the local partner in cold rooms that are produced locally. The SelfChill team trains the local partners in system design and cold room installation. This maximises local value creation.

So far, two SelfChill cold rooms have been installed in Nigeria:

  • A SelfChill Cold Room was installed as the first SelfChill system in Nigeria in December 2021 at the NSPRI research institute in Ilorin. It is currently being used for research purposes and trainings.
  • A SelfChill Cold Room 20 for cooling tomatoes was installed in February 2022 close to Benin city.

The new cold room in Nigeria goes into operation in February at the Mile 12 Market in Lagos. The operation model for this one is also special. A central operator rents out compartments in the storage room to market traders.

SelfChill is a cooperation of the two German companies Phaesun GmbH and Solar Cooling Engineering GmbH. The focus lies on innovative sustainable cooling solutions for agricultural products. The SelfChill approach enables local companies to construct their own cooling systems locally using high quality environmentally friendly SelfChill technology.

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Asantys supports all-round solutions for PURE applications integrated into solar powered mini-grids

Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) is an intriguing possibility which provides a wide variety of uses that could serve as a new frontier in livelihood and income-enhancing prospects for off-grid communities. Typical productive uses of rural areas in developing countries cover the Water-Energy-Food sectors.

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For instance, they comprise restaurants (for lighting, refrigerators, mixers, cookers, etc…), agriculture and agro-processing activities (such as cold storage, milling, drying, packaging, etc…), water activities (such as pumping, purification, etc…) and manufacturing industries (such as carpentry, welding, wood processing, etc…). Aside from increasing rural productivity and economic growth, PURE also leads to a significant increase in rural employment, thus limiting urban migration and allowing the local community to expand beyond its traditional interests.

To raise the standard of living worldwide, Asantys Systems strives to provide clean, secure, and affordable energy and preserve our planet. Along with offering solar energy, Asantys Systems also collaborates with PURE partners. The company offers a variety of services connected to the Water-Energy-Food nexus. The integration of smart meters and remote monitoring technologies with mini-grids allows us to intelligently control and optimise the needs of our customers’ loads based on their consumption patterns and to manage mobile payments more efficiently. As a result, mini-grids can provide energy at an aggregated level, allowing the development of PURE applications and managing services to the community from a distance. Offering e-mobility solutions will further boost rural incomes by facilitating cheaper access to nearby towns. Consequently, the provision of health services and the transportation of safe drinking water will be more efficient. The company believes that health and education play a significant role in the socioeconomic development of rural areas.

Asantys' capability to develop approaches for tackling critical environmental challenges and engaging communities in climate resilience is one of its most valued assets as a social entrepreneur. Although few initiatives actively encourage or promote PURE applications, Asantys Systems integrates them with solar-powered mini-grids to provide the community with a holistic solution. Asantys Systems also supports the growth of local training and capacity by working with local communities and NGOs. This will enable a better comprehension of local needs, encourages local acceptance and incorporates feedback into a complete strategy to promote local economic progress.

Besides enhancing rural livelihoods and income generation, Asantys Systems is also supporting renewable energy integration into existing power systems for commercial and industrial applications. It is evident that solar power will reduce grid power and costly fuel costs. In addition, a backup battery will reduce outages and reliance on diesel, thus resulting in a beneficial business case for the solar energy sector.


First smart hydro mini-grid in Kenya: A partnership between Turbulent & Hydrobox

Around 25% of households and businesses in Kenya do not have access to electricity. However, the local demand for power is rapidly increasing as a result of the country’s industrialisation and growing population.

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As a consequence, many households, businesses, and high impact organisations such as hospitals and schools in rural areas rely on fossil fuels; firewood, diesel and benzine are used to generate energy for transport, cooling, lighting, cooking, and powering of machinery. The increasing use of these types of fuels results in high CO2 emissions and accelerates deforestation, contributing to climate change and reducing the capacity of these regions to deal with the effects of climate change. 

This problem is considerable in Mathioya Sub County, located in Muranga county, 50 km north of Nairobi.

To tackle this challenge, Hydrobox, Turbulent and G-STIC teamed up, to prove that it is possible to develop a renewable energy mini-grid that is financially sustainable while also offering affordable tariffs so that low-income users connect and switch to cleaner electrical appliances.

This will be done by connecting households to innovative low head hydropower turbines that can even generate energy from small rivers in rural areas. Through their design, these turbines have the capacity to deliver 110 kW day and night without harming the rivers’ ecosystem.

The efficiency is achieved by properly researching the customers and designing a smart grid accordingly while bringing baseload for the productive use of electricity. Smart sensors and a monitoring system are installed to upscale and downscale energy consumption to avoid peak loads and to ensure that production meets consumption with minimum energy loss.

This project is an important part of the wider programme that Turbulent Hydro, Bynubian and Hydrobox and its partners are developing in Mathioya Subcounty. The wider programme aims to increase social impact and reduce carbon emission by developing a clean, smart and balanced grid that is able to offer the most affordable tariffs to the poorest households and high impact organisations such as schools and hospitals, while at the same time generating enough income to be financially sustainable. 

With this partnership, we will reduce 420 tonnes of CO2 emission a year by connecting over 500 households, several schools, businesses and hospitals to sustainable, efficient, reliable, and affordable electricity in rural Kenya.

  • Supporting local companies to unite energy access & women’s empowerment

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    MUNYAX ECO was founded in 2013 with the goal to become a key player in accelerating clean energy access and fostering women’s leadership and participation in Rwanda. Since then, it has progressively expanded its catalogue with solar home systems, solar LED street lighting as well as solar systems for commercial, industrial, and productive use of energy. The business has continued to engage in a gender-focused recruitment and sales strategy to increase female participation in the fight against climate change.

    Despite these successes, the company initially faced difficulties in accessing finance, as local Rwandese banks are often risk-averse to investments in a relatively new market segment. It was through an advert that they discovered the GET.invest Finance Catalyst, a GET.invest service providing advisory support in the areas of investment strategy, business case structuring and access to finance.

    The support began with a review of the business strategy which served as the foundation for a growth strategy and a revised financial model. In parallel, support went into identifying funding opportunities and structuring an organised data room able to address financiers’ and investors’ information needs. The cooperation between MUNYAX ECO and the GET.invest Finance Catalyst has resulted in successful fundraising (~30% of the company’s goal) and in facilitating important business relationships with potential suppliers. As a supported company, MUNYAX ECO has already reached several transactions at financial close and continues towards the total projected investment volume of EUR 3.3 million.

    The company is currently focused on attracting external equity and expanding its activities to neighbouring countries, including Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. To this end, GET.invest is now assisting MUNYAX ECO in a new financing series that could enable the company to provide clean energy to half a million people while avoiding the emission of 15 tonnes of CO2 per year.

    The GET.invest Finance Catalyst is free of charge and available throughout the year. Applications can be made online and are evaluated in recurring cycles of three to four weeks.

    GET.invest is a European programme supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria. Since 2022, GET.invest has been mandated to serve as the Team Europe One Stop Shop, the access point for information about and facilitated access to support and financing instruments for green energy in Africa.

    For more information, visit GET.invest website or contact us at

  • Zayed Sustainability Prize: Submissions now open

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    Established in 2008, the Zayed Sustainability Prize is the UAE’s pioneering global award for recognising excellence in sustainability.

    Launched at the 2008 World Future Energy Summit, by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, the Prize is a tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s legacy of humanitarianism and commitment to sustainability.

    The Zayed Sustainability Prize recognises non-profit organisations, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and high schools for their impactful, innovative and inspiring sustainable solutions across the categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools.

    With 96 winners across the world, over 370 million people have been impacted by the sustainability solutions and school projects since the first awards ceremony in 2009, with this number continuing to rapidly grow.

    The energy category recognises organisations that can demonstrate innovative, impactful and inspirational sustainability solutions in the areas of energy that include, but are not limited to:

    • Ensuring access to affordable and reliable clean energy
    • Increasing production of clean energy
    • Improving energy efficiency and energy infrastructure
    • Implementing clean energy technology innovations

    Organisations must also demonstrate a clear vision and long-term plan to further deploy their solution and scale up their impact, as well as inspiring others to follow suit by advancing sustainable and human development.

    Deadline: 2 May 2023

  • Representing the DRE sector at the 13th IRENA Assembly

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    The 13th session of the IRENA Assembly took place in-person on 14-15 January 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with related ministerial and stakeholder meetings held on 13 January 2023.

    The IRENA Assembly brought together Heads of State/Government, Ministers and energy decision-makers among its Membership and States-in-Accession, as well as multilateral organisations, global stakeholders and private actors to take stock of operational plans and policies and highlight the concerted action undertaken to implement the energy transition across countries, regions, and the world.

    The Assembly session also convened several Ministerial and High-level sessions to facilitate interaction between decision-makers on pressing issues related to the energy transition in the coming decade and beyond, and inform the future work of the Agency.

    ARE represented the DRE private sector voice.

  • Roll-out of second module of ARE’s Mozambique Investment Academy

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    16 participants from nine local Mozambican companies took part in the second training module of the Mozambique Investment Academy online on 26 January 2023 - a joint initiative by GET.invest and ARE.

    Participants received training and practical exercises on business modelling.

    The third and final modules are due to take place in February and March 2023.

  • Financing the clean energy transition in Africa – Gaps & opportunities

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    Over 350 attendees took part in the 8th webinar on 8 February 2023 under the PWCET series which discussed the gaps and opportunities in the financing of clean energy transition in Africa.

    Speakers from the BMZ, GreenMax, GBE Benin, SustainSolar and Differ Community Power shared their insights on the topic and discussed about various initiatives and programmes from their respective organisations.

    Watch the recording

  • Register now: Energy Access Investment Forum (Abidjan | 21-23 March)

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    The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) is thrilled to announce that the ARE Energy Access Investment Forum (EAIF) 2023 will take place on 21-23 March 2023 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    EAIF 2023 is organised by ARE, co-hosted by the African Development Bank and the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and supported by GET.invest and PROSPECT.

    EAIF is the top annual business and finance event for the DRE sector, enabling and fostering business and investor partnerships for the purpose of renewable electrification energy access, economic growth, decarbonisation and fighting against climate change.

    In 2023, the sector’s global flagship investment event aims to bring together up to 350 private and public financiers, energy and climate investors, development finance institutions, international funding partners, government officials and private sector companies.

    Register now

  • UNIDO ITPO & ARE: E-mobility & DRE Innovations in Emerging Economies

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    UNIDO ITPO Germany and ARE have joined hands to promote the role of integrated DRE and e-mobility solutions to accelerate the transition to sustainable and decarbonised mobility by showcasing innovative real-life examples from emerging economies. The 13 case studies and an expert interview in this publication highlight key challenges and benefits of this transition, while also proposing key recommendations and a way forward.

    This publication is dedicated to all companies taking pioneering steps by incorporating DRE solutions to power e-mobility. This not only boosts labour and economic productivity but also, on a broader scale, increases overall energy efficiency, thereby contributing to the decarbonisation of the mobility sector. The target audience for the publication are private sector companies and investors looking to enter the e-mobility space, the public sector entities considering establishing favourable environments for DRE-powered e-mobility solutions in their respective countries and regions and lastly, the international organisations, civil society, and local communities who are crucial at all levels of the project cycle to ensure their long-term sustainability.

  • CrossBoundary: Appliance Financing 3.0: Innovation Insight

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    Cheap, reliable power from mini-grids enables income-generating activity and is driving consumption, finds CrossBoundary’s Mini-Grid Innovation Lab in their latest Innovation Insight: Appliance Financing 3.0.

    CrossBoundary’s Innovation Lab funded developers who deployed 326 income-generating machines on credit to customers across 25 sites in Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania.

    Appliance financing 3.0 focused on income-generating equipment: electric pressure cookers, freezers/fridges, and grain mills were the appliances with the highest demand. Previous iterations of the appliance financing prototype showed that household appliances do not increase consumption.

    However, customers covering a specific need in a community tend to generate a disproportionate demand for electricity resulting in significantly higher consumption.

    In fact, the top 20% of appliance financing customers consume at least 16x more than their peers. This top 20% of appliance financing customers utilize equipment or machinery that meets specific community needs e.g., tailoring.

    The results also showed that appliance financing allows customers to increase their consumption sustainably over a prolonged period of time, despite economic shocks.

  • SEforALL: Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing

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    The Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative (AREMI) aims to drive investment and mobilise action in African countries to scale up renewable energy manufacturing capabilities. This international Initiative will help drive the financial, technical, and socioeconomic investments required to unlock the continent’s potential for up to 1.2 Terawatts of clean energy, 14 million new jobs and 6.4% growth in GDP by 2050.

    The report – supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the African Climate Foundation, and the ClimateWorks Foundation – analyzes Africa’s renewable energy manufacturing landscape, highlights pathways to accelerate a homegrown renewable energy industry, and provides a roadmap to help bridge the gaps and achieve a just, equitable, and green energy transition in Africa. 

  • WHO, World Bank, IRENA & SEforALL: Energizing health: accelerating electricity access in health-care facilities

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    The publication provides a comprehensive update on the status and key actions needed for providing reliable, modern energy to health-care facilities in low- and middle-income countries. It describes available tools and methods for characterizing the energy requirements for healthcare facilities, identifies technical and economic considerations for electrification, estimates the amount

    of investment that will be needed to provide universal electricity access to health facilities, and analyses the enabling policy frameworks that create the conditions for spurring investments and accelerating electrification of healthcare facilities.

    The findings of the report are relevant for agencies responsible for or involved in the financing and planning of health systems strengthening programmes – including Ministries of Health, Energy, and Finance, Rural Energy Agencies, and planning commissions – as well as actors involved in funding and implementation of energy access solutions for health facilities. This includes development partners, investors (especially impact investors), private sector service providers, foundations and non-governmental organisations operating in the health and in energy sectors.

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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