Newsletter - August 2014
Towards Achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030

Richenda's Message

Dear Friends,

As you all know, in July we celebrated the Network's third anniversary in Uganda. I am pleased to let you know that there will be an additional opportunity to convene and celebrate the third anniversary for those of you who plan to be in New York during the UN General Assembly week in September.

This month, we continue to celebrate the growth and reach of the work of members in the Energy Access Practitioner Network, which started in 2011 as a 20-member network and has grown to over 1,750 members today. We have just concluded our annual member survey, "Growing the Network: Building Impact". Preliminary analysis shows that network members today collectively deliver decentralized energy solutions to well over 21 million people annually, up from 18 million reported last year. Many of our newer network members are also more recent entrants into the sector, with some 57% of respondents reporting having been established in the last five years.

A majority of members are focusing on the delivery of a range of small solar photovoltaic system solutions, although other solutions and technologies are also represented in the network. Work in many countries in West and East Africa is a strong focus of network members, with activities in South Asia a close second. About one third of respondents are currently utilizing some form of pay-as-you-go financing, while two thirds utilize some sort of cash payment system.

We will be co-hosting a webinar "Pay As You Go: A Sunny Future?" on this issue, together with the Clean Energy Solutions Center on September 16. Join us to hear more from members including BBOXX, Mobisol, Off Grid:Electric, and Simpa Networks on how they are scaling energy service delivery using pay as you go in Africa and Asia. More details of all our events are available on our website at


Richenda Van Leeuwen Executive Director, Energy Access, United Nations Foundation.

Member Announcements


  • Chief Executive Officer for CLEAN, India
    The Clean Energy Access Network's (CLEAN) secretariat, hosted in the Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund, seeks applicants for the position of Chief Executive Officer. CLEAN seeks to be a unifying entity with a clear mandate to support and grow the decentralized clean energy sector in India. CLEAN already has committed funding from USAID, GIZ, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and ICCO (Innovative Change Collaborative) to support institution building and network activities over the next three years. Click here for more details.

  • PowerMundo wins IDB's innovation prize
    The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced that PowerMundo, a Colorado-based international social enterprise, was selected as one of 10 winners out of 563 applicants in the latest IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest. This initiative seeks to promote innovative solutions to energy problems, benefit communities, create jobs and expand access to renewable energy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    PowerMundo's proposal was called "Digital Diesel: Pay As You Go Financing for Solar Energy in Rural Peru" and they have partnered with Colorado-based diviPower to develop and scale this program in Latin America. In addition to the prize money of USD 100,000, PowerMundo will receive technical and business development support as well as access to experts, policy makers and financial partners to implement and scale up its approach. Read More.

  • Spotlight on SunFarmer's rent-to-own solar model
    In recognition of the potential for scaling SunFarmer's rent-to-own model being implemented in health facilities across Nepal, a new article in The Guardian explains that their rent-to-own model succeeds because it enables greater affordability as well as provision of incentives for maintaining energy equipment in good working condition over the repayment period. Read More. 

  • Nokero launches all-in-one solar light bulb

    nokero image
    Nokero's all-purpose solar light bulb, Prima N202. Photo credit: Nokero.
    At the recent AREDAY in Aspen, Colorado, Nokero announced the launch of its newest product: The Prima N202. Designed as an all–in-one solution, the Prima features an integrated solar panel, an easy to use on/off push button switch, and a rechargeable battery. "The sleek and versatile design makes for a lightweight aesthetic as much as an all-purpose unit," a press release from Nokero said.
    Read the full press release here.

  • Urban Green Energy updates
    Nearly all telecom operators face an ongoing challenge, to maintain constant service even in remote locations. Urban Green Energy (UGE) and local partner Self Energy Pacific have designed and installed a solar, wind, and battery hybrid system for telecom towers in New Caledonia. These are only accessible by helicopter. Through these systems, they have been able to replace the diesel fuel used in the past.
    Thanks to a generous award from the U.S Department of Energy, Urban Green Energy's small wind turbine, VisionAIR3, will begin third party testing for IEC certification. The award is aimed at making VisionAIR3 more competitive. The resulting certification will open up the turbine's eligibility for additional government incentives, as well as allowing project financiers to have greater confidence in profitable returns.

  • BBOXX in Breakthrough 50
    In 2014, BBOXX was named one of Santander's Breakthrough 50, showcasing Britain's fastest growing 50 companies. BBOXX recently developed a low-cost and low-power remote monitoring system. This new technology is now integrated into all BBOXX products and is connected to the local cellular network to pass on data directly to the BBOXX server in real time.
    The remote monitoring system enables BBOXX to manage customer usage as well as to ensure payment on all devices. All third party distributors can also benefit from remote monitoring information by using a simple interface to access the data. BBOXX has a patent pending on this technology for "adaptive battery management of off-grid solar kits using remotely networked devices".
    BBOXX's engineering team is also putting the finishing touches on a new solar lantern, the ergonomic BBOXX ONE. This new solar lantern was developed with fishermen in mind, who use kerosene lights to attract fish at night. The lantern is intended to help them increase the yield of fish as well as for lighting family homes, as it can be placed directly on a table or hung from a wall.

  • Sunna Design launches new product
    Sunna Design has announced the launch of its new product: "The iSSL Maxi offers all the iSSL+ benefits, from heat resistance to plug and play design and it is more powerful and especially intended for wider area lighting. Very polyvalent, it is available in two configurations: with the LED lights engines on the same side, for powerful road lighting, or with the LED light engines on two opposite sides, for village squares or car park lighting". Learn more about Sunna products here.

  • LivelyHoods creates more jobs for Kenya's youth
    LivelyHoods has been creating jobs for disadvantaged youth from Kenya's slums since 2011 through the distribution and sale of life-changing products that include many renewable energy products, ranging from clean cookstoves to solar lanterns. The young people who work for LivelyHoods use a procurement process that is led by initial feedback from customers. LivelyHoods has just opened two new stores in Makadara and Mathare slums, bringing its total to four, with over 500 youth trained – creating more jobs in the first half of this year than all of 2013. Please click here to join LivelyHoods in celebrating International Youth Day and investing in a promising future for LivelyHoods' exceptional youth.

  • Informational services from Bennu Solar
    Bennu Solar provides a range of informational services including recommended options, details on the scope and steps, and cost ranges for social auditing and improving labor conditions at manufacturing companies producing solar products. Such auditing services are intended to help support sustainable supply chain good labor practices in the energy access sector and beyond. Interested members can contact Yotam Ariel at for further information. 

Featured Member

Sustainable Rural Growth and Development Initiative (SRGDI): An ambitious project on Lake Malawi

SRDGI website picSRGDI’s proposed project on Likoma Island will help provide reliable electricity to this tourist destination. Photo credit: SRGDI
Sustainable Rural Growth and Development Initiative (SRGDI), is a non‐governmental organization formed to improve the quality of lives and livelihoods in Malawi and Southern Africa through the promotion of sustainable development. SRGDI would like to see all rural communities in Malawi have access to energy. In order to achieve this objective SRGDI is involved in the provision of the following services: Solar Product and Entrepreneurship training to women and youth; Solar outreach programs for rural areas; Solar lighting in schools and health centers.

In one of the most ambitious renewable energy projects in Malawi, SRGDI is partnering with Global Solar and Electrical Malawi Ltd to build a 500 KW solar-wind hybrid system on Likoma Island, one of the most beautiful islands on Lake Malawi, currently fed by electricity from three 250 KW diesel generators that run for up to 14 hours every day. The island has an airstrip and is a world tourist destination with great potential.


Funding Opportunities

Innovation Prize for Africa 2015

Due October 31, 2014. The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) is calling on all African innovators to submit their entries for the fourth edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). IPA provides a platform to identify, promote and reward African innovators with ground-breaking solutions which have market potential. It invests USD 150, 000 annually into winning ground-breaking African-led solutions that contribute to African economic growth. Applications for the IPA 2015 competition can be received until October 31, 2014, 23h59 GMT. For more information about how to submit an application please follow this link. All Africans, including those in the Diaspora, are welcomed to submit their entries to IPA. Read More.

Scottish Government Malawi Development 2015-18 Funding Round.

Deadline October 3, 2014. Organisations are invited to apply for up to £600,000 in Scottish Government funding over three years (starting April 2015, running until end of March 2018) for projects on the themes of Sustainable Economic Development (including renewable energy), Civic Society and Governance, Health, and Education in line with the development priorities of the Malawian Government. The total Scottish government funding for the 2015-2018 round of the Malawi Development Programme will exceed £3 million per annum. Funding will not go directly to the government of Malawi though only projects which reflect the development priorities of the Government of Malawi will be considered for funding. For renewable energy projects, applications are invited for those supporting off-grid energy access, via mini-grids or standalone systems such as solar home systems or individual solar lanterns. Read More.

Low Carbon Innovation Fund – ongoing call for applications for Smaller Investments Scheme in the East of England.

Equity investments of between £10,000 and 75,000 are being made available to eligible Small-and-Medium Enterprises in the East of England through a recently launched Smaller Investments Scheme from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF). The fund, part of the University of East Anglia's Adapt Low Carbon Group, is open to any eligible business in the East of England that is interested in developing or producing low carbon technologies, products or services, and/or increasing their operational efficiency to reduce carbon emissions.

The fund can invest in companies that are:
  • Developing low carbon products or components
  • Selling services to support carbon reduction
  • Contributing to carbon reduction through a focus on resource efficiency, process efficiency and waste reduction. In addition, the LCIF's main fund provides investments between £75,000 and £1 million. Investments must always be matched by private co-investment of at least the same amount, and may not exceed 50 per cent of the total investment round.

More information is available at:

Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing (AFRICEF-3) Business Plan Competition 2014, Johannesburg, South Africa

Due November 13, 2014. As part of the launch of the third Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing 2014 (AFRICEF-3), clean energy projects from around the continent will be showcased to Africa's leading investors. The Forum seeks innovative projects that are financially viable, socially responsible and environmentally beneficial. AFRICEF-3 is open to projects from all African countries, except ECOWAS states, with the main focus being Southern, East and Central Africa. Foreign persons or companies with projects in these countries are also eligible. Projects developed by NGOs and not-for-profit organizations are eligible as long as the subject investment proposal is commercial in scope. Read More.

DFID Impact Fund Call for Proposals

Proposals are due December 31, 2015. The DFID Impact Fund invites proposals from impact investment vehicles (fund managers, holding companies and any other investment vehicles) interested in receiving an investment from the Fund. The Fund aims to direct investment capital towards sectors or pro-poor businesses that are otherwise unable to attract commercial investment and hence require the early-stage patient capital and technical support available through the Fund. They include businesses providing access to food, housing, energy, water, sanitation, health, education, financial services and livelihoods for the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) population. Given that microfinance has successfully attracted investment capital from other sources, microfinance-focused investment vehicles are excluded from the purview of this fund. The Fund will seek to invest between £5 million and 15 million per investment for a maximum period of 10 years.

Through the DFID Impact Fund, the UK's Development Finance Institution, CDC, and DFID are seeking to invest in activities that combine a clear and significant pro-poor impact with financial discipline to protect the investor. The DFID Impact Fund aims to draw in sustainable sources of private capital into the impact investment market that are willing to allocate a portion of their portfolio to this emerging asset class. By helping existing impact investors secure demonstrable social impact with their money and encouraging greater commitments to impact investment, more enterprises will be created or strengthened with more poor people having access to jobs, incomes and affordable goods and services suited to their needs. The DFID Impact Fund will be focused on investments in low income and lower-middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with a maximum of 15% of capital available for investing in India through a regional or a global intermediary. Read More.

Call for Proposals. Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies (REACT)

REACT is a window of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, capitalized by multilateral and bilateral donors. It stimulates private sector entrepreneurs in Africa to innovate and find profitable ways of delivering renewable energy and climate change adaptation products and services. The fund awards grants and repayable grants to private sector companies operating in the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. REACT will be issuing a new call for proposals around June 25. Further information will be available at that time under the REACT window of the AECF web site at


Energy for Women's and Children's Health - A stakeholder meeting
22 September 2014, New York (Invitation only)

Mini-grids: Experience from commercially viable systems
A Workshop hosted by World Bank, U.S. State Department, USAID and UN Foundation
16-17 October 2014, Washington DC
For further information, please email:

Other Upcoming Events

BOP World Convention and Expo
28-30 August 2014, Singapore

SOCAP 2014
2-5 September 2014, San Francisco, California, USA


Monthly News Clips

With USD 1 million from Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development, a small U.S. clean energy company working in Haiti is expanding its reach beyond household devices to strategies that boost local agriculture.

Powering Agriculture Wiki launched - Energypedia
The wiki is a place where you can learn more about the energy and agriculture nexus or share your own energy and agriculture information. Visit the Powering Agriculture site and click on the wiki link to learn about this resource.

Could Africa be the Global Epicenter of Renewable Energy in 2030? - Elsevier
Africa has vast and largely untapped endowment of renewables and is now seeing greater interest in using hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal to address the vexing problem of lack of access to electricity, says Lawrence Jones in his new Book: "Renewable Energy Integration – Practical Management of Variability, Uncertainty and Flexibility in Power Grids".

Rent to own solar systems hope to prevent blackouts in Nepal's hospitalsThe Guardian
Every one of Nepal's 6,000 health centers and clinics has problems with energy supply. A new business model providing rent to own solar systems aims to change that.

New Energy Access Reports

Power Africa Annual Report, USAID
In just one year, Power Africa has made significant progress toward its ambitious goal of adding more than 10,000 Mega Watts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient energy generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. This increased capacity will make it possible to provide electricity access to 20 million new households and commercial entities in sub-Saharan Africa via a range of grid-tied and decentralized solutions.

West African Solar Opportunities, PV Tech
West Africa has in excess of 5GW of solar PV projects in the pipeline, and numerous governments including solar PV in their energy planning mix, making the region a prime focus area for solar PV development. This 41-page report complements the Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa conference 16-17 September in Ghana, giving details of the following:
• Government incentives/policies & targets for solar
• Details of installed projects, developers and financiers
• Details of announced projects, developers and financiers
• Key statistics on energy infrastructure, power mix and economic factors

The report covers Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia & Togo.

Developing an Online Database of National and Sub-national Clean Energy Policies, Clean Energy Solutions Center
The Clean Energy Solutions Center's newly published report highlights the major policy, research and technical topics to be considered when creating a clean energy policy database and website similar to the U.S. Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency and the Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database.

Could Africa be the Global Epicenter of Renewable Energy by 2030?, Dr. Lawrence E. Jones
In the third chapter of Renewable Energy Integration, titled "Harnessing and Integrating Africa's Renewable Energy Resources," Ijeoma Onyegi provides a thorough discussion of the continent's renewable energy landscape, and the potential challenges and opportunities for tapping clean energy resources. Whether grid connected or off-grid systems, appropriate long-term policies along with adequate investment in infrastructure and human capacity are vital to harnessing the renewable energy potential in African countries.

Renewable Energy based Mini-grids for Enhancing Electricity Access: Experiences and Lessons from India, ResearchGate
Renewable energy based mini-grids have been used alongside conventional grid extension and completely standalone systems for providing electricity access in remote areas, forested habitations, and islands in India. This paper, based on extensive literature review, interviews with key stakeholders, and field visits to selected sites, captures the nuances of renewable energy based mini-grid developments in India. It also shares the experiences and lessons from the mini-grid sector by comprehensively analyzing dimensions such as coverage and trends, technical designs, institutional arrangements, financial mechanism, tariffs, and operations and maintenance. Finally, the paper suggests ways to strengthen the delivery of renewable energy based mini-grids to support improved energy access, to complement both grid electrification and off-grid work already underway in India.

Access to Energy via Digital Finance: Models for Innovation, Kabir Kumar and Jacob Winiecki, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)
This paper provides an overview of the digitally financed energy access sector, highlighting advancements in business models and product offerings. The focus is on businesses deploying PAYG solar photovoltaic products using digitized payments and unique hardware to control the use of energy services. While there are experiences combining digital finance with a wide range of energy technologies, PAYG solar photovoltaic (PV) products have by far the most market traction in terms of total units sold, amount of time deployed, and number of countries with active sales.

New Practitioner Network Members

The Practitioner Network now has over 1,700 members. Welcome to the following:

BOSCO Uganda
Ingowet Inc.
Ministry of Energy, Uganda
Renewable Energy Incubator - Makerere University, Uganda
Sustainable Energy Eng. Co
Think Universal Power
Zarena Renewable Energy Agency
Adventure Learning and Community Development Initiative Uganda
Eila-Eilot Renewable Energy
Access Renewables
HERi Madagascar