EEP Africa Trust Fund enters full operational mode

29 projects, representing EUR 14 million in requested funding, were approved by the EEP Investment Committee during a week which also featured the first meeting of the EEP Supervisory Board.

The EEP Investment Committee, consisting of representatives from theMinistry forForeign Affairs of Finland(MFA),Nordic Development Fund(NDF), andAustrian Development Agency(ADA), convened on 13 November in Pretoria to confirm the selection of projects to be funded from the 14th Call for Proposals. After a fruitful day of presentations and discussion, 29 projects, with a portfolio size of EUR 14 million, were selected.

NDF Program Manager and the Chair of the Investment Committee,Aleksi Lumijärvi, noted “Immense work has gone into the evaluation of 530 Concept Notes and the subsequent shortlisting of 40 high quality proposals. The selected portfolio of 29 projects represents the full spectrum of clean energy solutions in Africa, and EEP financing allocated to these projects will promote several emerging market, business and financing trends.”

On 15 November, two days after the Investment Committee, the EEP Supervisory Board assembled for the first meeting under the new Trust Fund structure with all the current Fund Donors present.Ms. Nomawethu Qase, Director of New & Renewable Energy at Department of Energy in South Africa, andMr. Moses Ntlamelle, Senior Programme Officer on Energy of SADC, participated as observers and presented their work in the sector.

MFA is very proud of having started such a great initiative in green climate financing”, saidPäivi Lehtonen, MFA representative and Chair of the Supervisory Board Meeting. “EEP Africa started in 2010 and has successfully delivered clean energy through more than 220 projects in the region. In the beginning of this year, we were very happy to expand the scope to two more countries, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and are confident that the Programme will continue achieving good results under NDF management.”

The meetings followed a well-attendedKnowledge Exchange Forum(KEF) in Kigali, on 9 November, taking focus on mini-grid development and investment opportunities.  The event was co-hosted withEnergy Private Developers(EPD) and was the final featured event in theRwanda Energy Weekthat also covered events hosted byGlobal Alliance for Clean Cooking(GACC) and GOGLA. EEP regularly organises KEFs in the region to facilitate sharing of lessons learnt within the sector.

Photo by NDF: The first EEP Africa Supervisory Board under the NDF management convened at Innovation Hub in Pretoria.

Awarding of EEP PoY 2018 closed the busy Rwanda Energy Week

The latest EEP Africa Knowledge Exchange Forum (KEF) capped off the Renewable Energy for Sustainable Growth – Rwanda Energy Week in Kigali. The event attracted over 120 specialists with lively discussions on mini-grids, private sector experiences and financing. Participants included project developers, equity and impact investors, researchers, and representatives of renewable energy associations, development banks, multilateral and bilateral organisations, and government institutions.

EEP Africa KEF’s are designed to enable experiences and learning to be shared across projects and to facilitate networking among EEP project developers and other players in the renewable energy sector. The KEF Kigali on 9 November 2018 was one of several special events held during Rwanda Energy Week, which was hosted by the Energy Private Developers (EPD). EEP Africa collaborates with local industry associations to increase its impact and was pleased to hold its KEF alongside events by EPD, GOGLA and the Clean Cooking Alliance.  

The opening speakers emphasized current opportunities in the sector. Tom Rwahama, Energy Sector Secretariat Coordinator from the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure highlighted energy access as one of the government’s key priorities for economic growth. He shared Rwanda’s ambitious energy sector targets: by 2024, the government aims to provide universal energy access, with 48% of energy connections coming from off grid systems. Ivan Twagirashema the EPD chairman, highlighted the role of the private sector in fulfilling government targets by fostering investments that accelerate rapid electrification. Charles Wetherill, Program Manager of the EEP Africa Trust Fund at the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), emphasized the EEP portfolio’s value as a pipeline for downstream investors and a source of knowledge and learning on the broader policy and market environment.

The keynote speech was given by Chaim Motzen, founder of Izuba and co-founder/former managing director of Gigawatt Global, who shared his experience and lessons learned from the first IPP project in Rwanda, an 8.5 MW solar plant. He outlined key learning points in developing a project of this scale, such as working with a strong local partner and the need for government support.

The main panel at KEF Kigali focused on Mini-Grids and included findings and insights from the recent EEP Africa in-depth study on mini-grids. A second panel on Attracting Financiers for Renewable Energy Projects included both project developers and different types of investors. Project preparedness and risk versus innovation were cited as some of the key factors in determining investment potential. Attendees were also able to discuss key issues more informally during Communities of Knowledge roundtables on: the role of industry associations; standardised KPIs; productive uses in mini-grids; women in value chains; and regional replication/local ownership.

 

Finally, the EEP Project of the Year 2018 was awarded during the KEF. This annual award highlights one EEP project for its outstanding innovation and success, offering public recognition that can attract investors and help advance the business to the next level of growth and sustainability. Shortlisted applicants, Meshpower (mini-grid developer in Rwanda) and Vitalite (SHS company from Zambia), presented their projects during the KEF and a panel of experts chose the winner based on the merits of the project. Lauri Tuomaala of EEP Africa announced Vitalite as the EEP Project of the Year 2018   for pioneering PAYG solar in Zambia. Wim Jonker Klunne of EEP Africa and Kelly Easton Programme Director for Africa Utility Week (AUW) jointly presented the award to Mike Matokwani, Finance Director of Vitalite. By combining quality products with an innovative approach to staff development and community engagement, Vitalite has experienced impressive growth in recent years. As part of the award, a representative of Vitalite is invited to speak at the 2019 AUW in Cape Town, South Africa.

The KEF Kigali was a dynamic event of knowledge sharing and networking. Upcoming EEP Africa events include an East Africa Investor Forum in Nairobi in December 2018 and a new Call for Proposals (CfP15) in 2019.

EEP Africa at the Clean Cooking Investment Forum in Rwanda

EEP participated in the first-ever Clean Cooking Investment Forum on 6 November in Kigali. The event convened more than 250 business leaders, investors, donors, and government representatives from over 40 countries to collaborate on the development of a global and sustainable clean cooking industry at scale.

 The event was co-hosted by the Clean Cooking Alliance  and Energy Private Developers Rwanda.  Several EEP supported project developers were featured on panel discussions including Burn, Inyenyeri, Simgas, Envirofit and Practical Action. The event highlighted the demand for growth in this sector to support the SDGs and the need for significant further investment.

 The EEP Africa Head of Portfolio and Finance, Lauri Tuomaala, was a panelist on “Market Developer Perspective” and shared key market insights from the latest EEP call for proposals organized in 2018. Based on market intelligence from the call, the clean cooking industry is developing rapidly. New business models and innovations are being introduced, and significant lessons are being deployed from the SHS market. The Kigali event on investment highlighted the same market transformation observed by EEP.

 EEP aims to continue developing the clean cooking sector and to support project developers in this sector in the 15 Southern and East African countries covered by EEP.

Unlocking Solar Capital Africa

EEP Africa also participated in the 3rd Unlocking Solar Capital Africa hosted by Solarplaza and GOGLA during Rwandan Energy Week. EEP Africa M&E Adviser, Anise Sacranie, attended the event along with over 350 representatives of development banks, investment funds, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs & other stakeholders. GOGLA shared its efforts to develop impact metrics and key performance indicators for the PAYG business model in collaboration with Lighting Global. The event also highlighted the challenges of accessing financing as one of the main barriers to exploiting the significant solar potential in Africa. This was particularly evident by the disparity between the number of financiers and project developers in the room. EEP Africa spoke with many of the investors present about how the Fund can support financing initiatives through its upcoming Investor Forum and other activities.

 

Photo gallery from EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum
Credit: High Media Studio, Rwanda

 

 

 

 

EEP Africa shares experiences on gender and energy in Ethiopia

EEP Africa was a guest speaker at a course on Power Production Planning and Energy Trading  that was organized by Nordic Energy Research in Addis Ababa on 22-23 October 2018. EEP’s gender specialist, Ms. Lotta Wilkman, presented insights and experiences on gender and energy in Africa with the audience of Ethiopian project developers and other players in the renewable energy sector.

The course was part of a joint initiative launched in 2017 by the five Nordic Prime Ministers that seeks to bring Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges. This initiative aims to drive progress towards the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Nordic countries support the Ethiopian energy sector through a number of bilateral and multilateral programmes. More than 90% of Ethiopia’s installed electricity generation capacity comes from hydropower, so there has been a strong emphasis on transferring Norwegian know-how on hydro projects. However, with a growing and mostly rural population of more than 100 million people, the need and market potential for solar-home-systems and other off-grid solutions is substantial.

Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges

The Nordic Prime Ministers’ Initiative involves six flagship projects presenting Nordic knowledge in gender equality, sustainable food systems, smart welfare solutions, sustainable cities, regional energy co-operation and climate solutions. The Nordic Energy Solutions project targets East Africa and addresses the goal of “Sustainable Energy for All” (SDG7). It aims to increase renewable energy, facilitate international collaboration, and promote investment by utilising Nordic expertise in wind, hydro and geothermal projects.

Nordic countries have a long history of cross-border energy cooperation, with a mixed portfolio of renewable energy companies and technologies. The robust regulatory frameworks and transparent energy markets in the Nordic region could serve as a benchmark for the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP). The EAPP initiative covers seven East African countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan) with an objective to optimize the development of energy resources in the region and to enhance electricity access to all people through regional power interconnections.

EEP Gender Experiences Applied to Ethiopia

Gender equality is a priority of the Prime Ministers’ Initiative and a cross-cutting issue in the development initiatives of all Nordic countries. Ms. Wilkman presented key findings from the EEP in-depth study on gender, Understanding the Role of Women and Girls in Renewable and Energy-Efficiency Projects, and highlighted specific gender-related benefits and challenges in hydropower and other larger utility scale projects. Considering the needs of women, usually representing half of the population affected by the project, is an important question of risk and expectations management. Applying gender-responsive approaches to construction projects and guaranteeing equal access to economic opportunities can enhance the success of these projects. There are some differences between Ethiopia and the 15 countries covered by EEP, in terms of the mix of energy sources and level of women’s participation. However, many of the core challenges linked to rural energy poverty and gender inequality are similar throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and lessons from the EEP study can be shared across the region.

The course participants indicated a commitment to promoting gender equality in the Ethiopian energy sector. Discussions focused on acknowledging current barriers, considering the specific needs of women in decision making positions in energy projects, and identifying ways to attract more women to apply for jobs and develop careers in this male-dominated field. The Ethiopian participants appreciated learning from the best practices of EEP-supported projects and gaining a better understanding of the development benefits and business case of engaging in gender equality.

Nordic Business Opportunities in Ethiopia

EEP Africa also participated in a seminar on Nordic Solutions for Business Development in Ethiopia on 24 October. This event, which was organized jointly by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Embassy of Sweden in Addis Ababa, attracted a large number of Nordic and local companies. The seminar presented Nordic expertise and solutions in the context of the Ethiopian energy sector and highlighted the inspiration that the common Nordic energy markets could provide in the region. In addition to energy, the seminar looked at wider opportunities and challenges that the Ethiopian business landscape offers for Nordic companies and financing instruments.

Ethiopian project developers in both events indicated wide interest towards EEP and expressed wish to expand EEP operations to Ethiopia. Currently, the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), which hosts and manages EEP Africa, supports innovative climate change projects in Ethiopia through its Nordic Climate Facility.