Greetings from EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum in Lusaka

The fifth EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum hosted by the EEP team on Tuesday the 11th of April attracted a great mix of participants at the InterContinental hotel in Lusaka. An audience of over 70 project developers, donors, national coordinators, private sector actors, civil society organizations, as well as Zambian government officials gathered to get updated on the latest news of the EEP programme and to  discuss and share experiences on a variety of topics. As the core idea of KEF concept is networking and learning from each other, the KEF Lusaka was characterized by good atmosphere and lively discussions. New contacts were created and old ones enhanced. Based on the immediate positive feedback received from the participants, the EEP team was happy to conclude that the KEF was once again a great success.

In the beginning of the day, Mr. Lloyd Chinjenge  from the Zambian Department of Energy presented the current state of energy in the country, followed by Mr. Jouko Leinonen from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) sharing some thoughts about EEP’s progress and successes from the donor perspective. Mr. Geoffrey Musonda from Rural Electrification Authority (REA) took the stage next and gave an overview on the challenges and future prospects of electrification of rural Zambia. The EEP Programme Director Wim Jonker Klunne provided an update on the renewable energy, electricity access and the energy targets of the Southern African countries, after which the EEP portfolio was presented by Mr. Lauri Tuomaala from the EEP team with a quick peak into the 16 EEP projects in Zambia.

After the coffee break Ms. Lisa Gahan from KPMG South Africa presented emerging findings from the EEP In-Depth study on Gender issues that indicate a high level of gender mainstreaming in EEP projects. For example, over 50% of the respondents indicated significant gender dimensions in their project, in 32% of the projects women affected positively on the financial performance (0% negatively) and 40% of the projects have achieved a gender balance by having at least 50% women in the workforce.

 The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with Ms. Anu Hassinen from the Embassy of Finland in Lusaka, Ms. Rehema Nakyazze CEO of Ugastove, Ms. Lotta Wilkman from the EEP team and Ms. Noma Qase the EEP National Coordinator from the Department of Energy in South Africa.

The discussions highlighted the importance of women’s role in the energy sector both as beneficiaries and workforce, and especially the personal experiences of the panelists provided depth to the discussion. The audience also participated actively by sharing their insights. The final results of the In-Depth study are expected to be published by the end of May.

The key findings from the EEP In-Depth study on Solar PV business models were presented after the lunch by Mr. Fred Eklund from the EEP team. In the following panel debate the representatives of three EEP Solar PV projects (Mr. John Fay from Vitalite, Ms. Marion Peterson from Emerging Cooking Solutions and Mr. Dirkpieter Idzenga from id Solar Solutions) were accompanied by Ms. Helvi Ileka, the EEP National Coordinator for Namibia and Ms. Sabera Khan from the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia. The project developers shared their challenges and successes in the Zambian Solar PV sector and the discussion touched, among others themes, on the viability of mini and micro-grids.

In the round-table sessions KEF participants were encouraged to mix up the groups to share thoughts on topics of big data in rural energy projects, gender aspects integration, grant support vs market distorting and long term vs once-off support. The themes sparked interesting discussions that seemed to carry on along the afternoon.

At the end of the day Mr. Jan Koivu from MFA was invited to present on the next steps of the EEP Programme as the phase II is coming to an end. The phase III is currently under a planning and design process. In Phase III the EEP Programme will be institutionalized as a trust fund in cooperation with Nordic Development Fund based in Helsinki. Official closing remarks by Mr. John Warburton of EEP co-donor DFID led the participants to the laid-back reception where also the Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Mr. Timo Olkkonen gave his greetings from the celebrations of Finland’s 100 years of independence.

After the event many participants expressed their interest in joining the EEP Investor Forum in Nairobi the 30th of May and the next KEF planned to be held in Kampala, Uganda later this year. Warm thanks to all participants and stay tuned for the EEP news and registration info for the upcoming EEP events!