Knowledge Exchange Forum was held 2 June in Windhoek

EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum

EEP S&EA was hosting its third Knowledge Exchange Forum on the 2nd of June 2016 in Windhoek, Namibia. The event gathered together around 80 participants from private sector and government agencies. The event was opened by the Deputy Director for Energy of the Namibian Ministry of Mines & Energy, Mr. Nico Snyders.

After a welcome address by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Finnish Embassy to Namibia, Ms. Elisabet Kivimaki, the funding partners of the EEP programme (Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, UK Department of International Development and Austrian Development Agency) addressed the audience.

Mr. Nokwazi Moyo of UNIDO informed the participants on the current status of the establishing of the Southern African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), while EEP Programme Director Wim Jonker Klunne did give a status overview of the EEP programme.

The remainder of the day consisted of presentations and lively round table discussions. The presentations covered topics such as corporate social responsibility by Riikka Sievänen (ECO team, KPMG) and Boston Nyer (BURN), energy efficiency by James Hayes (ECO team), overview of the renewables in the region and EEP update by Wim Jonker-Klunne (ECO team), business development support by Anni Korhonen (ECO team, KPMG) and Riikka Sievänen, and an overview of SACREEE. All the presentations are available at bottom of this page.

The round table discussions received lots of positive feedback and the discussions around each topic were fruitful. The four topics were: 1) Energy access: cooking energy, 2) Project financing: how to attract long-term investors after a successful pilot/ scale-up project, 3) Policy environment: what are the barriers and how to encourage to support new technologies and productive use of energy? And 4) Corporate Social Responsibility.

As a summary to each topic, by not having a single solution, there were many opposing arguments but also some harmonious views. In cooking energy, an interesting point for example was the introduction of hybrid solutions, where two or several technologies and business models could work together better than stand-alone approaches. This would also require more cooperation between different project developers to come up with more comprehensive energy solutions. The serious health concerns were also pointed out. Still many people in African continent are not having access to clean cooking energy and it is causing more deaths than malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS together.

How to attract long-term investors after a successful pilot or scale up project was also a conversation where many opposing arguments were given. Some participants felt that further support from international agencies could help and make the investing decisions easier, whereas others argued that especially governmental agencies can also harm the financing flow by slowing down the processes. In general, it was agreed that still more market demonstration is needed to prove that the sustainable energy solutions can provide good return on investments. In order to attract investors, all crucial elements of the business plan need to be in place, including the financing plan, clear concept and comprehensive risk management.

The discussions around the policy environment were pointing out the importance of enabling policies; policies that rather enable the greater uptake of renewable energy than red-taping new opportunities. The participants also felt that government and international agencies could take a more active role in dissemination information around renewable energy project financing, mapping e.g mini-grids and in policy harmonization. An important point was also made that each of us as an individual are the most important stakeholders to make the changes we need. What are also required, are stability and consistency in policies so that they, again, would rather enable than limit the new sustainable energy solutions.

The last topic, corporate social responsibility was also seen as a component that can create long-term assets and sustainability for a business. However, many argued that especially in Africa it is difficult to compete with CSR qualities, when some other competitors do not care about them and they compete with lower price. The CSR was seen as important investment in future and an important component to build up the communities around the region. Again, more government enabling practices and policies could support this development.

Overall, the feedback from the participants was very positive, scoring 8 or better (1-10).

The EEP Coordination Office wants to thank everyone who participated the Forum and made it a success. EEP S&EA will be organizing another Knowledge Exchange Forum in Nairobi later this year.