More than 90 enthusiastic EEP project developers, investors and other professionals in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency gathered on 11 October in Kampala to meet peers and exchange new ideas. The 6th EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum was built around inspiring presentations and discussions, encouraging participants to active networking and sharing of experiences. The intense day reached its climax with the announcement of the EEP Project of the Year 2017 Award winner.
Private sector’s potential must be harnessed effectively
Esther Nyanzi from UNREEEA kicked off the day by speaking about their important mission to improve business environment for renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in Uganda and contribute to sustainable development. After that, the invited keynote speaker, Chairman of Simba Group Patrick Bitature gave a powerful speech about investments in renewable energy in Uganda. Mr. Bitature praised EEP as a true partnership and urged local companies to show their innovations and bravely search for funding opportunities. He also encouraged African and foreign companies to collaborate, in order to facilitate skills transfer. According to his words “Private sector should start with what they have got, fail, get up and start again. We cannot depend on donors forever”.
EEP Grant Manager Fred Eklund shared the current status of the project portfolio, highlighting the excellent results and the life-changing impacts the projects are achieving across sectors, countries and project types. Variety of the projects has proven to be one of the greatest strengths of EEP, making the programme stand out in the region. EEP Programme Director Wim Jonker Klunne continued with presenting hydropower projects in the EEP portfolio and the panel on hydro shared their thoughts about barriers and possibilities in the African hydropower sector.
Partnering and knowledge sharing throughout KEF
After the lunch GOGLA and EUEI PDF (sharing on RECP and ElectriFI) provided interesting insights into supporting mechanisms for renewable energy projects and highlighted the need for early-stage funding through EEP as well as the added value in partnering and sharing information on funding opportunities.
In addition to several networking breaks, the round-table discussions offered the participants a chance to share their own experiences about innovations in the business model; challenges and lessons from product distribution; regulatory and policy framework; productive use of energy; and ideal team composition for reaching best results in energy projects. The participation in the round-tables was very active and room was full of discussion.
EEP Project of the Year Award 2017
For the fourth time since 2014, EEP selected the Project of the Year among the three shortlisted projects who were invited to give a presentation at the KEF. The competition was very tough as 15 successful project developers had submitted an application for the award. The Project of the Year title was finally awarded to the Kampala-based company Green Bio Energy. The winner convinced the EEP jury with the remarkable results that they have achieved with their energy-efficient cookstoves and eco-friendly briquettes. Green Bio Energy has up to date affected the lives of 750,000 Ugandans, reduced 265,000 tons of CO2 emission and created permanent jobs for over 250 people. GBE’s annual growth in sales is forecast to be 25 %, and the company is poised to continue its expansion in Kampala and Mbale areas. Green Bio Energy hoped that this award would support them in achieving even better results and a greater impact.
This year’s winner GBE will be seen in the world’s leading startup event Slush Helsinki in November, where they will get a valuable opportunity to create contacts with international investors and mingle with other startup companies.
The other two great finalists were Absolute Energy with a solar PV mini-grid project electrifying a remote island of Kitobo in Lake Victoria, and BioLite whose innovative cookstove solution addresses multiple energy needs (ie. cooking, phone charging and lighting) simultaneously. All the finalists have shown great business potential, and we can be sure to hear more about them in the future.
Towards EEP Phase III
The last Knowledge Exchange Forum of the second phase of EEP was closed with the donors’ insights into the achievements of EEP Phase II and introduction to the future of the new EEP Multi-donor Trust Fund starting its operations in the beginning of 2018. The donors humbly thanked all project developers for their committed efforts in advancing the goals of EEP.