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Top Stories — January 2016 | Energy Access Practitioner Network

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Top Stories — January 2016

Off-Grid Electric and Kopernik win Zayed Future Energy Prize

Off Grid Electric – a Tanzania-California initiative that provides affordable solar and storage units to customers in Tanzania and Rwanda via a pre-pay mobile payment model, was recognized as the winner of the Small and Medium Enterprise category of the UAE’s Zayed Future Energy Prize this year. The company’s pay-as-you-go model is attracting 10,000 new households a month, and Off Grid Electric plans to apply the prize funds towards growing its salesforce in Tanzania. Currently the company employs around 1,000 people in Tanzania and hopes to recruit even more graduates from local universities to work in both sales and after sales service – which are a key component of the Off Grid electric model.

Indonesia-based Kopernik received the award in the Non-Profit category for its clean tech model for remote communities in Indonesia. Targeting “last mile” customers, Kopernik’s 400-strong team of “Wonder Women” sell solar lights, solar home systems and water filters to cash-poor communities on a consignment basis, taking a small cut of each sale as their own income. The prize will help Kopernik expand its portfolio of technologies to better meet the needs of these un-electrified and under-electrified communities, and is likely to expand to include affordable battery storage in the near future.

To access the press release from the Practitioner Network on the awards, click here.


Ethiopia to provide 300,000 solar-powered potable water facilities

Ethiopia’s rural localities without access to the power grid are to get potable water facilities powered by renewable energy sources; according to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the country is massively engaged in the installation of wind and solar powered water pumps in remote localities throughout the country. 109 such projects are under implementation in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s states of the country. Out of the total projects, 33 have been fully accomplished with additional 67 under installation, and design works and further studies are underway on the remaining projects. The projects are expected to help increase the sustained supply of water at lower economic, environmental and social cost than fossil fuel powered water pumping systems in rural areas; and benefit over 300,000 people. The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the National Climate Facility are the financiers of the $5 million project.


The Electrify Africa Act passes out of the U.S. Senate

This bill will help provide first-time electricity access to 50 million people and increase sub-Saharan Africa’s electricity generating capacity by 20 Gigawatts. This bill aims to increase electricity access in a number of ways: it will harness the power of the private sector by directing the U.S. government to provide them with more information and support for doing business in Africa; work with governments in sub-Saharan Africa to improve the way they manage their electricity utilities and regulate their power markets to make them more attractive to investors and companies like the ones that come from the United States; and direct the U.S. government to be more strategic in how it spends its foreign assistance dollars, to ensure that valuable U.S. tax dollars gets spent on smart projects that will help the most people for the longest amount of time.


U.S. Government Teams With Private Lenders to Support Beyond-the-Grid Energy Companies

Working capital constraints remain a bottleneck for beyond-the-grid enterprises working to bring renewable energy solutions to people who lack reliable access to electricity. A new service offered by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Development Credit Authority (DCA) may provide a remedy, through supporting the mobilization of capital to these companies.

The DCA supports a number of sectors, including agriculture, education, health, and small businesses with loan guarantees to stimulate lending into developing sectors. When it comes to energy and beyond-the grid enterprises, a new specialized and branded facility aims to share downside risk in an effort to mitigate lender concerns about Africa’s up-and-coming clean tech energy markets.

The new loan guarantee service is budgeted at $75 million to support loans covering the entire value chain. The service will guarantee 50 percent of a loan’s principal to encourage lenders to increase the size and tenor of their investments to enterprises. The DCA loan guarantee is intended to reduce the perception of risk to the lender, ideally making it easier for beyond-the-grid enterprises to get loans.

In order to support this vision, DCA has selected a few pioneering lenders for the new facility. Lenders were selected based on knowledge of the sector, as well as an investment thesis that allows for taking higher, first-mover risk. These lenders include impact investors and a traditional bank in Africa. The marquee backer is Ceniarth, a single family office with a focus on funding commercial energy access and agriculture projects.  For more information, visit DCA’s website.