Newsletter - September 2014
Towards Achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030

Richenda's Message

Dear Friends,

Addressing climate change is at the forefront of global attention this month as world leaders assemble at the United Nations for the Climate Summit, called by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss how best to accelerate progress on this increasingly urgent issue. Government representatives attending the Summit will be joined by business leaders, UN officials, and non-governmental voices to highlight existing and emerging efforts to drive down global carbon emissions and strengthen resilience – covering issue areas such as energy, cities, agriculture, forests, financing, short-lived pollutants, and transportation. The Summit is not part of the formal climate negotiations, but aims to build momentum toward a new global agreement to be reached in Paris during the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) late next year.

In order to highlight the ongoing needs to address today's energy challenges, as we look to supporting a more sustainable tomorrow, the Energy Access Practitioner Network will be hosting two events in New York on the margins of the Climate Summit. First, a stakeholder engagement meeting on the ongoing work of the SE4ALL Energy and Women's and Children's health high impact opportunity area will take place on September 22. Second, a more public-facing discussion together with a number of our members and hosted jointly with USAID within the 'Beyond the Grid,' component of President Barack Obama's Power Africa initiative, is happening on September 24.

I look forward to hearing the latest updates from those of you planning to be there. And for those who can't join us, please follow along on social media as our team will be live tweeting from New York throughout the week via @energyaccessPN.


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

Member Announcements


  • EarthSpark's Kiva Haitian micro-grid campaign raises over $125,000

    EarthSpark International
    has teamed up with to crowd-fund the provision of reliable electricity through its innovative micro-grid project in the coastal town of Les Anglais in Haiti. So far, the innovative campaign has raised over USD 125,000. EarthSpark is on track to pioneering a pre-paid solar micro-grid model that could provide reliable electricity both in Haiti and in other developing 
    countries. The second stream of loan profiles will soon be live on Kiva.

  • ONergy's inONvations incubator

    In March this year, Mangal Biswas and his son Soumitra from Betna village in the Nadia district of West Bengal, India, decided to convert their diesel pump to solar with support from Switch ON - ONergy's Solar Irrigation Project. They were using diesel pump operators, which irrigated their land and provided water to 15 farmers in the neighborhood, charging Rs. 100 per hour. Running their system on solar made it possible to bring down the cost to Rs. 70 per hour, enabled them to lease the pump, and pay for the service with a pay-as-you-go model. They were the first ones to adopt this technology.

    Bagnan-smallONergy's solar-powered irrigation pump in Nadia district, West Bengal. Photo Credit: ONergy

    Today, many farmers in their area are keen to receive water from Biswas' solar pump or set up their own. Another solar pump, with an overhead storage tank with a capacity of 30,000 liters has been set up in Howrah by ONergy Solar. Over the next few months, more solar pumps will be set up in Nadia to demonstrate a financially viable distribution model for solar pumps. The trend has also grown across ONergy's renewable energy center network in Odisha and Jharkhand.

    This project was executed through the Switch ON – ONergy inONvations incubator, committed to facilitating the nexus between energy and different areas of development in rural communities, including agriculture, education and health. ONergy Solar is also setting up a solar-powered hybrid micro cold storage system in Nadia, to be managed by ON Farm, a farmer producer company (FPC) supported by Switch ON. The FPC manages the supply chain activity, and is able to offer competitive prices for the farmers. The cold storage will enable the storage of agricultural produce and extend shelf life, so farmers can take advantage of price fluctuations. These initiatives of Switch ON - ONergy are supported by NABARD and GIZ.

    Currently ONergy solar is working in three states of Eastern India – West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand through 12 renewable energy centers and a 100 member strong team. ONergy reports having assisted 200,000 people since 2009, and aim to help a further 1 million people by 2016. For more information about ONergy's projects, please email Vinay Jaju:

  • Historic Indian flooding - solar lights urgently needed
    As India's Jammu and Kashmir battles the worst floods in over a century, practitioner network member Frontier Markets has indicated a massive ongoing need for solar lights to aid flood relief efforts at night, and charge mobile phones so people can communicate with their families. They are partnering with d.Light to help distribute solar lights with mobile chargers to families most affected by the flooding. Contribute to Frontier Markets' Indiegogo campaign.

  • All Power Labs' innovative design patented
    All Power Labs report receiving a US patent for their (APL) Power Pallet, which embodies the company's core design and operational relationships. The Power Pallet offers on-demand, affordable renewable energy in a compact package.

    All Power Labs has affirmed that the patent does not suggest a move away from existing open-source, kit-based free plans that it will continue to publish for download on their website. It will also maintain its online Wiki, and host regular Open Houses and Workshops, where details of their latest work will be shared. The patent allows APL to continue to invest and grow, while protecting its work from inappropriate use. 

  • Mobisol celebrates 1,000 solar system installations in Rwanda
    Mobisol GmbH celebrated the installation of 1,000 solar systems in Rwanda by donating a 200 Wp system to an orphanage in rural Nyamata, after successfully installing solar home systems for 999 paying customers in Rwanda. Thirty-six children of ages up to five years now enjoy clean, reliable energy produced by the Mobisol system, along with 29 additional bright and efficient lights.

  • Lights for refugees in Rwanda
    Great Lakes Energy and Global BrightLight Foundation have put together a documentary on how each one of the 3,700 households in the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda were given a Sun King Pro solar lamp, and the impact that light has had on their lives. Prior to distribution, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sensitized camp residents on the importance of the solar lamp, and Great Lakes Energy trained elected community representatives how to train their neighbors on the use and care of the lamps.

    Global Brightlight Foundation (GBF) was created in 2010 to provide solar lanterns to off grid families in the most rural areas of the world. Pilots were conducted in Rwanda and Patagonia, Argentina, to determine the best technology in the market and pricing. Data collected provided the foundation for the business plan GBF is currently implementing, with projects in Rwanda, Guatemala, Nepal and Peru.

    GBF also recognized the need to provide solar lanterns for people living in areas of the world that would never have the means to buy them, especially UNHCR refugee camps. Working in Rwanda with Great Lakes Energy, GBF created a project to provide a Sun King solar lantern to each of the 3,700 families that live in the Kiziba camp in western Rwanda. In exchange for the lantern, each recipient was required to provide community service in the camp. This took the form of a reforestation project around the camp, in which over 20,000 trees were planted by the refugees. You can watch the documentary about this work here:

    The Sun King solar lanterns allow the refugee families of Kiziba to stop selling their food rations to buy kerosene and candles, thus also significantly improving nutrition for these families. Furthermore, the use of the solar lantern improves the health of the families by removing the need to burn fume-emitting kerosene and candles in the home. In the 6 months since the lanterns were distributed in the camp, teachers have reported that student performance in school is improving, there have been fewer sexual assaults of women and girls on their way to the public latrines at night, and the infirmary reports that respiratory problem visits have declined.
  • Azuri introduces pay-as-you-go to Rwanda
    Azuri and GVEP International are bringing Azuri's pay-as-you-go solar technology to Rwanda. The initial cost of a solar home power system is unaffordable to many of the 83% of Rwandans who have no access to grid electricity. With this project, users are able to charge mobile phones within residences, benefiting from eight hours of lighting per day for only $1.25 a week (kerosene costs around $5 a week). The program aims to support the creation of local partners to deploy Azuri's Indigo solar home systems in Rwanda and act as a pilot for deployment of future pay-as-you-go solar lighting systems in off-grid communities in other countries. The project is on track to deploy 10,000 solar home systems this year.

  • Ennovent Circle closes Series A investment in BOOND
    Ennovent Circle Members - Opes Impact Fund, Rianta Capital and Sumantra Roy - have closed a Series A investment with Practitioner Network member Boond Engineering & Development.
    According to a press release, this investment in Boond led by Opes is the seventh deal facilitated by the Ennovent Circle - an exclusive group of investors, mentors and entrepreneurs that collaborates to accelerate innovations for low income markets - since its launch in 2012.
    Boond works to provide affordable, clean energy access to the remote, rural parts of India. Along with servicing solar power centers, Boond also designs products for rural markets such as solar light systems, biomass gas stoves, solar AC inverter systems and solar water pumps.
    Currently Boond has six energy hubs across districts in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. With this Series A investment, Boond plans to build a stronger and more reliable service infrastructure in the form of energy hubs, demonstration units, inventory and trained technicians.

  • Summer sales spike for practitioners in Africa - SunnyMoney and Fenix International
    SunnyMoney reported its biggest sales month ever in June, 2014 with 85,787 lights sold in several countries in East Africa. Fenix International is seeing sales of its new ReadyPay take off, with a 57.3% sales increase from May to June with 1,021 units sold in June – and is targeting 10,000 units sold by the end of 2014.

  • Little Sun lamps arrive in Zambia
    Little Sun lamps are arriving for the first time in Zambia, and Best Foot Forward Consulting, founded by Alexandra Frank, has launched an Indiegogo campaign to get more Little Sun lamps and Business Boxes into the country.

  • GERES' work benefits over 2.8 million people
    In 2013, GERES continued its activities through 71 projects run in 14 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. This work resulted directly in support to more than 3,300 entrepreneurs and around 600,000 families or project developers, while indirectly benefiting 2,800,000 people. To read about GERES' accomplishments, please read their annual report

Featured Member

Off Grid: Electric: Expanding opportunities through access to reliable, affordable energy

Tanzania-based Off Grid: Electric addresses the urgent global challenge of lack of access to reliable and affordable electricity by providing low-cost solar energy services to households, particularly in remote and challenging environments, making an aspirational modern energy lifestyle accessible to all and contributing to universal energy access by 2030, a key objective of the United Nations Sustainable Energy For All initiative.

Off grid electricOff Grid: Electric's network of entrepreneurs or "M-Power agents" install solar PV systems. Photo Credit: Off Grid: Electric


Off Grid: Electric installs small-scale solar photovoltaic systems, or "M-POWER systems", through a network of local entrepreneurs, called "M-POWER agents". Using a pay-as-you-go approach, where end users pre-pay for services through their mobile phones and are sent secure unlock codes via SMS, which are then entered into their M-POWER system, Off Grid: Electric reaches people who have unreliable or no access to electricity, or want to avoid expensive grid connections.

Off Grid: Electric offers a technical, operational and financial model that makes high-quality renewable energy services affordable and accessible. As part of their payment for energy services, customers receive ongoing support. Households are charged a simple daily fee rather than fees on a per usage basis and, should they face any issues, Off Grid: Electric repairs or replaces the system. The entry point for an M-POWER Level 1 system is priced below the cost of kerosene, thereby allowing for mass-market affordability. Each service level is designed to allow customers to progress to higher levels as their ability to pay grows and their needs increase.

Since signing up its first customer in 2012, Off Grid: Electric has grown to serve tens of thousands of households across northern Tanzania. By connecting several thousand new households each month, the company is growing quickly throughout the country and aims to expand into new markets within East Africa soon. With each household it serves, Off Grid: Electric estimates contributing to annual savings of nearly US $195 versus the cost of kerosene.


Funding Opportunities


NSDC Innovations for skills challenge, India, 2014

The NSDC challenge is an Indian initiative that aims to identify and invest up to Rs 3 crores (debt) in 10 to 15 innovative and robust enterprises that will support skills development in India. They are looking for enterprises that have a robust business model and are able to clearly demonstrate the impact their innovation can create. To apply or nominate, please connect with Vineet Kumar - Manager, Discover Services.


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

2015 Ashden International Awards open for entries - Deadline November 4, 2014

The Ashden Awards – the world's leading green energy awards scheme – is seeking entries for its 2015 International Awards. Ashden wants to hear from trailblazing sustainable energy enterprises and programs from the developing world that are increasing access to sustainable energy and improving lives, while protecting the environment. Entry to the awards is free, with up to six winners to receive awards worth up to £40,000 at a prestigious ceremony in London on 11 June 2015. Ashden also provides winners with a wide-ranging package of support, tailor-made to their needs. This includes business mentoring, sales and technical training, introductions to investors, media materials and help with communications. For further information and to apply for an Award visit: or contact our Awards Coordinator: + 44 (0)20 7410 7023 or email:


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

Towards Universal Energy Access: 2014 Policy and Practice
A joint event by the UN Foundation's Energy Access Practitioner Network and the US Government's Power Africa 'Beyond the Grid' sub-initiative.
24 September 2014, New York.
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

UN Climate Summit 2014
23 September 2014, UN Headquarters, New York

Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, 2014.
21-24 September 2014, New York.

Global Challenges for Science and Technology": Winton Symposium
29 September 2014, Cambridge-UK

EuropeAid Empowering Rural Electrification Workshop
29-30 September 2014, Brussels

Solar Power International

20-23 October 2014, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo
22-24 October 2014, Abuja, Nigeria

Innovative Finance for Sustainable Development
11- 12 November 2014, Singapore

United Nations Climate Change Conference - COP 20
1-12 December 2014, Peru-Lima

Monthly News Clips

Azuri and its local partner in Sierra Leone Teleficient Communication have launched a special radio campaign to enable their Pay-as-you-Go solar customers in regions affected by the Ebola virus to keep their households powered.

Most of Haiti goes dark at night - a genius idea to fix that - Ryot
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.

There is a place in the world that if fighting poverty with solar power - Mother Jones
Lusela Murandika just wants to be able to watch the evening news. The 76-year-old farmer lives in Kanyala village in northern Tanzania, 60 miles from the nearest town that's connected to the electric grid. For years, he's powered a tiny TV set in the dim sitting room of his concrete house here with a diesel generator, spending roughly $10 each month on fuel—money that could otherwise buy more than 20 pounds of rice in a country where the per capita GDP is $695.

World Bank announces US $5 billion for power generation in Africa – IISD
The World Bank has committed US$5 billion in technical and financial support for energy projects in six African countries partnering with US President Barack Obama's Power Africa Initiative. The support will consist of direct financing, investment guarantees and advisory services for project preparation, with the aim of creating 2.5 GW in new electricity generation capacity.

SVTC launches new sustainable off-grid solar recycling incubator - Sun Connect
Off-grid solar solutions such as solar lanterns and small solar home systems are transforming communities around the world that lack access to an electrical grid. Unfortunately, these products typically have short life spans—just three to five years—and are already creating a serious hazardous waste problem.

More than a light bulb: How clean energy is powering health clinics beyond the grid - Sierra Club
It is hard to overstate the effect that access to reliable electricity can have on people's lives in rural communities worldwide.

Policy uncertainty threatens to slow renewable energy momentum - IEA
IEA forecast sees renewable power as a cost-competitive option in an increasing number of cases, but facing growing risks to deployment over the medium term.

Powering the world's poorer economies: A response to Bill Gates and Jigar Shah - Green Tech Media
Carl Pope weighs in with a more data-driven case for renewables over fossil fuels.

New Energy Access Reports

PicoPV system market assessment in Ethiopia, Eco EnDev, GIZ
This article summarizes the results from the market assessment of solar energy products in Ethiopia, and presents the results from a report from market assessment undertaken for the GIZ ECO EnDev Programme. These analyses examine performance indicators, market shares, changes since the baseline, and incremental cost differences before and after the established retailers were handed over by the Rural Energy Foundation/Solar Now to GIZ ECO.


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.

Investment and Finance Study for off-grid lighting, GOGLA
At their first investor conference, the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) launched the Investment and Finance Study for Off-Grid Lighting on July 7, 2014 at Credit Suisse's St. Peter Forum in Zurich. The study reviews the market for solar off-grid lighting products and concludes that improved financing can promote industry growth. The study was prepared in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, sponsored by the GIZ and supported by Quadia, Solar Energy Foundation, and SolarAid.

Energy and carbon benefits of pico-powered lighting, Lighting Global
Lighting Global has published the fourth article in the on-going Eco Design series, titled "Energy and Carbon Benefits of Pico-Powered Lighting". The article summarizes recent research findings that consider the energy and climate change implications of small solar powered products. The article compares the embodied energy of kerosene and solar lights, as well as the energy return on investment of the products and finds significant climate benefits associated with switching from fuel-based to clean electronic lighting. Read the news story on these findings here.