Newsletter - November 2014
Towards Achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030

Richenda's Message

Dear Friends,

Last month saw the Americas launch of the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All in Chile. Hosted by the Chilean government and the Inter-American Development Bank, the practitioner network was ably represented by founding member Richard Hansen, CEO of Soluz. You can read about Richard's impressions of the launch event and more generally his thoughts on energy access in the region here.

As we look towards the end of the year the Americas continue to loom large in the upcoming UNFCCC COP 20 taking place next month in Lima, Peru. The Energy Access Practitioner Network will co-host an energy access side event at the COP featuring the work of several of members like Practical Action active in addressing Peru's still significant residual electrification issues.

Energy access is a critical component both for sustainable development and for helping vulnerable communities address the risks associated with a changing climate. Next year the two will go firmly hand in hand in the finalization of the new set of Sustainable development goals planned to replace the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), also known as the world's development agenda. "Sustainable Energy for All" is well placed to be included among those adopted. At the same time, we anticipate strong engagement around the climate change negotiations which will be taking place in Paris in late 2015, where a new global framework to address climate change is to be determined. It is critically important that as the world seeks to steer our energy path onto a lower emissions trajectory the needs of all those who do not yet have the full benefits from modern energy services are appropriately addressed and prioritized.

In other parts of the world, the Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN) was formally launched recently in India with 10 founding organizations, including the UN Foundation. It is focused on supporting an array of existing and emerging work on decentralized energy services across the country. We have more than 200 members already in the practitioner network working in India in various aspects of decentralized energy service delivery. We will be encouraging them to engage with CLEAN and are confident that it will serve as an excellent hub for sharing of our India-based membership on best practices and approaches to delivering energy services to a diverse array of communities and customers. For more details on how to join CLEAN, please contact my colleague Tripta Singh at

As the year draws to a close, we are looking ahead and finalizing our planning for the coming year. We sent out our annual survey over the summer and had good responses from many of our members reflecting a significant increase in activities. More than 21 million people benefiting from the services you provided around the world in the last year. Moving forward, we are planning to provide more targeted support at country level in the coming year, building from successful work in several countries in 2014 in convening Sustainable Energy for All stakeholder meetings, and taking this to new contexts early in the New Year. We are also looking to strengthen our profiling of investment opportunities through a new collaboration with the Ground Up Project to profile your enterprises to new investor audiences. And early in the New Year we will be releasing a new version of our website with more functionality to help provide the services and information you have requested.

With more than 1,800 members now in the network, we can't always reach out individually to you, but are always looking to hear from you how we can best tailor our work to support you most effectively. And that collectively we can exponentially increase the number of people benefiting from accessible, affordable and sustainable energy access in the years to come.

Warm Regards,
richenda sign 2

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

Member Announcements


  • BBOXX delivers over one million watts of solar power
    BBOXX has announced that to date, it has provided over one million watts of solar energy to customers in 35 countries. To put this in context, whereas in the United States, one megawatt is required to provide one hour of energy for 1000 homes, in Africa, one megawatt can provide an hour of energy to over 40,000 homes. By providing renewable energy services, BBOXX has announced that it helped its customers save over USD 1 million in energy costs. In East Africa alone BBOXX has created over 100 jobs to sell, install and distribute renewable energy in remote rural areas. Read more on the impact of BBOXX's work here.

  • WakaWaka named 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree
    WakaWaka has been named a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree for two of its products. The announcement will be made at the prestigious Consumer Electronics Association Innovation Awards, which is the biggest consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow that takes place every January in Las Vegas.

  • WE CARE Solar and partners support fights against Ebola
    WE CARE Solar and the Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research are bringing 15 Solar Suitcases to checkpoints, holding centers and emergency rooms in Liberia to support efforts to fight Ebola. WE CARE Solar is seeking donations to respond to additional requests from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

  • Small Hydro in Zambia
    SNV is working with the Zambian government and Practical Action on piloting micro- and mini-hydro off-grid systems to increase energy access in Zambia, where only 21 per cent of the population is connected to the national grid. SNV and Practical Action have conducted a pre-feasibility study and identified four pilot project sites for run of the river hydro in Zambia. In addition to expanding Zambia's domestic power capacity, the electricity produced will power an estimated 200 households via energy kiosks, as well as providing electricity to schools and clinics. The electricity generated is also expected to power small businesses and the agro-processing industry, creating market-based incentives for communities, the private sector and government to collaborate and invest in this effort. Next steps in building the micro-hydro systems include detailed feasibility studies, project implementation and sharing best practices. Read more and watch the video here.

  • OMC Power secures funding to reach over 3 million customers
    OMC Power secured major financing from Energy Investment Tech that will help the company with its plans to build 200 micro-power plants and reach over 3 million customers in 6,000 villages in India. OMC Power has already constructed 20 micro-power plants in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

    OMC Power micropower plants in Jangaon UP

    OMC Power micro-power plants in Jangaon village, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo Credit: OMC Power

  • Solar Aid impact Report: Investing in families, eradicating kerosene

    In its Impact report 2014, Solar Aid reports not only on improved socio-economic outcomes for customers who are saving money, making their homes safe, improving their livelihoods and helping their children study at night with solar products. It also highlights the choices people make and the challenges that need to be overcome in order to scale access to sustainable energy solutions in Africa. By April 2014 Solar Aid had sold over one million solar lights, and provided access to an estimated 3.9 million people between 2013 and 2014.

    As nine in ten customers of Solar Aid's social enterprise SunnyMoney live on less than $1.25 a day, and families save up to $70 a year – or 10 per cent of their income – by using solar lighting, the report emphasizes that the economic impact of switching from kerosene to solar is life-changing as families are able to redistribute their savings from energy usage to food, education and better livelihoods.

    The report asserts that one of the biggest barriers to scaling solar technology is building awareness and trust among communities. In 2013, through SunnyMoney's light library project, 58 schools in Senegal were given a solar lights for use by the students and the community for a small daily fee. This allowed communities the opportunity to test out the project before use, particularly for low-income households that cannot take risks with their household budgets.

    Families report that children are the primary users of the solar lights as it gives them on average at least one extra hour of studies under bright, safe and clean lighting every day. Families surveyed also reported improvements in health with fewer complaints of coughing, chest problems and eye irritation.


Featured Member

Mobisol: Innovation at the nexus of solar energy and mobile technology

Mobisol, a Berlin-based company, combines solar energy with innovative mobile technology and microfinance to provide high quality solar home systems to low-income households in developing countries.

Mobisol Tanzanian technicians installing PV panelMobisol Tanzania techinicians instal a photovoltaic panel. The installation and maintenance service is included in the three-year warranty, guaranteeing customers high quality products and reliable energy. Photo Credit: Mobisol.


As of October 2014, Mobisol had installed a total of 1 MW solar capacity spread over 10,000 households in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, showcasing the potential and replicability of its business model. Mobisol's approach to electrification protects the environment and mitigates climate change: the installed systems currently offset approximately 4,250 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Mobisol reports some of the key features of their approach and systems as follows:

Microfinance via mobile banking

Mobisol's pay-as-you-go system circumvents the initial investment hurdle for customers who cannot afford the upfront cost for a solar home system. Using mobile banking services such as M-Pesa or MTN Money, customers can pay for their system, conveniently via their mobile phones, in a 36-month instalment plan.

Clean electricity for households and businesses

Mobisol's plug-and-play system is quickly installed by locally trained technicians, and includes a solar panel, battery, lights, and a cell phone charger. Available in five different sizes: 30, 80, 100, 120 and 200 Watts, the smallest unit can light several rooms, power a radio and charge three mobile phones per day. The largest system powers multiple lights, consumer appliances such as a laptop, television, and DC refrigerator, and charges up to 10 mobile phones simultaneously. Alternatively, the larger systems can also be used for the electricity needs of small businesses.

After-sales service

Mobisol offers an extended warranty, free repair service within 48 hours, customer hotlines and remote monitoring via the GSM modem included in the solar controller. The back-end technology and web-based interface securely monitors each system's performance in real time, significantly enhancing system maintenance, book-keeping, research and problem-solving. Systems can also be locked automatically in case of theft or overdue repayment.

Increasing productivity and stimulating entrepreneurship

Mobisol's larger solar systems are powerful enough to run energy-based businesses, such as a mobile phone charging business. Mobisol has developed specifically designed business kits that attach to the standard systems, with all components necessary to open such a business included. In this business model, entrepreneurial customers can pay off their systems though the incremental income generated by their new energy-based business.

Providing green jobs and building capacity

In order to train and equip all Mobisol employees with optimal knowledge for the installation, operations and maintenance of its systems, Mobisol has initiated the Mobisol Akademie, a comprehensive training and empowerment initiative in rural areas. To date, Mobisol has directly created over 400 stable jobs in East Africa.

Learn more at 

Funding Opportunities

Closing Soon: Climate Solver Awards 2014

Due November 30, 2014: Climate Solver, a global climate innovation platform developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to encourage the dissemination and widespread use of low carbon technologies, is calling for nominations for its 2014 Awards in the small and medium enterprises category in India. For details on the nominations process, please refer to WWF-India brochure. Nominations are due by November 30. For more details on the Climate Solver platform visit:

Closing Soon: Earth Care Awards 2015

Deadline November 30, 2014. The Earth Care Award seeks to recognize and foster actions and innovations for climate change mitigation and adaptation by communities, entrepreneurs, large scale industries and small and medium scale industries. The 2015 edition of the Awards is open to SAARC countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Award identifies initiatives with demonstrated actions that contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The Award recognizes locally derived mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect land and water resources and scale up innovations for increasing energy efficiency, and focuses on four action areas:

1. Communities: Climate Change Adaptation - Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, and Water Resources
2. Innovation for Climate Protection
3. GHG Mitigation in Large Scale Enterprises
4. Energy Efficiency and Emission Reduction in Small & Medium Scale Enterprises

Further information on application forms and process can be found here and here. For more information you can also e-mail or

Powering Agriculture: Second Global Innovation Call

The second Global Innovation Call for Powering Agriculture: Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) will be released by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Sweden, Duke Energy Corporation, the Government of Germany, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

The objective of PAEGC is to support new and sustainable approaches to accelerate the development and deployment of Clean Energy Solutions for increasing agriculture productivity and/or value in developing countries. The Second Global Innovation Call will seek innovative approaches that take advantage of the market opportunities at the heart of the energy-agriculture nexus in developing countries.

Important Dates:
November 13, 2014: Call for innovations released
December 8, 2014: Submission window open
February 12, 2015: Last day to submit concept notes

For more information about the Second Global Innovation Call visit: For more information about Powering Agriculture visit

GSMA announces new funding and scope for rebranded Mobile for Development Utilities Programme

Submissions due December 7, 2014: GSMA and DFID announced that an additional £6,000,000 in funding has been provided by DFID to extend GSMA's work to improve energy, water and sanitation as part of its newly branded Mobile for Development Utilities Programme. This builds on the early success of the first phase of the program under the Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) banner, through which 13 grants were awarded across 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Developing Asia. You can find further information on the grants and how to apply on the Innovation Fund webpage. You can also email your questions to:

Global Innovation Fund call for applications

The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) invites applications from social enterprises, for-profit firms, non-profit organizations, researchers, and government agencies that offer breakthrough solutions to global development challenges. GIF will offer grants, loans, and equity investments ranging from £30,000 to £10,000,000 at three different stages of a project: pilot, test and transition, and scaling up. Learn more here.

Green Pioneer Accelerator call for applications

Applications are welcome from entrepreneurs working on innovative products in rapidly expanding environmental sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture (including apiculture and aquaculture), ecotourism, sustainable forestry, and non-timber forest products. Emphasis will also be given to opportunities in addressing food waste, ecological housing, recycling and other green innovations. Applicants should benefit local communities that are an integral part of protecting the earth's natural capital. This program is a joint initiative of Hivos, VC4Africa, Impact Amplifier and Growth Africa. You can apply to the South Africa program or the Kenya program.

2015 Agora Accelerator

Agora is seeking entrepreneurs with for-profit businesses creating social and environmental impact in Latin America to apply for the 2015 Agora Accelerator.

Private Financing Advisory Network for Asia call for proposals

The USAID regional Private Financing Advisory Network for Asia (PFAN-Asia) is a five-year regional program that aims to accelerate private sector investment in clean energy projects and greenhouse gas emission reductions, open to businesses based in Southeast Asia and South Asia. It provides investment readiness assessments, mentoring services, match-making to investors, and tipping point assistance.
PFAN-Asia is looking for projects and companies that need financing for developing renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transport related businesses in any of the following 12 countries: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Submit applications – including a business plan or project executive summary – in electronic format to For more information, watch this video.

Shell Springboard is open for applications

Applications due 5pm GMT, December 5: Shell is calling on small and medium enterprises with big ideas on reducing carbon emissions to enter Shell Springboard for the chance to win a national award of £150,000 to scale up their business idea. In addition, five regional winners will each receive £40,000. Businesses that make it through to the regional and national finals will also benefit from networking opportunities and feedback from an expert panel of judges.

IRENA/ADFD Project Facility: Third Funding Cycle Open

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has announced the third funding cycle of the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility. Deadline for applications is February 18, 2015 (17:00 Gulf Standard Time). Applicants need to register and apply online. The Project Facility is now offering lower loan rates for all cycles. The IRENA/ADFD Project Facility is seeking renewable energy projects in developing countries that are innovative and have the potential to be models for replication and scale-up. For information about the Facility and to apply, please visit:  or contact  

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 others – 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 require the early-stage patient capital and technical support available through the Fund. These 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 £5-15 million per investment for a maximum period of 10 years.
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.

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. For the latest information visit the REACT page on the AECF web site.



Micro-grids: Best practices around technology challenges Webinar hosted by the UN Foundation and the Clean Energy Solutions Center.
December 9, 2014, 

The Microenergy Systems Research Group at the Technische Universität Berlin, the BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore and the Berkeley Rural Energy Group at UC Berkeley, California, will jointly organize the MES 2015 Conference, an interdisciplinary and interactive forum for academics and experts to discuss the latest research and current trends in the field of decentralized energy supply.

The conference will take place in Bangalore, India, on April, 23-25 2015. Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri (Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC and head of TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute) will be the keynote speaker.

Other Upcoming Events

ASEAN Renewable Energy Guidelines webinar
November 25, 2014, Online

Solar Energy Southeast Asia
13-14 November, Panama

World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2015
19-20 January 2015, Abu Dhabi-UAE

15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit
5-7 February 2015, New-Delhi, India

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

Monthly News Clips

Energy access cannot be left to the energy sector, argues Simon Trace, CEO of Practical Action. One hundred and thirty five years after Edison patented the first commercially viable light bulb back in 1879, one fifth of humanity still lives in the dark with no access to electricity and little chance of getting out of poverty.

AfDB Launches Green Growth Framework - IISD
The African Development Bank has released its first Green Growth Framework which will function as a foundational reference document for its future work on green growth. The framework was developed in preparation for and follow-up to the Bank's Strategy for 2013-2022.

Masdar to Build first Large-Scale Wind Farm in the Middle East -
Abu Dhabi-based Masdar signed a joint development agreement with the Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO) to build the first large-scale wind farm in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

GIZ, IFC to illuminate off-grid communities – Dhaka Tribune
Lighting Asia-Bangladesh seeks to arrange lighting for poor people by catalyzing the Pico PV system market in the country - The GIZ and the IFC have jointly launched the Lighting Asia-Bangladesh program with the aim of bringing electricity to 2.5 million off-grid people through solar appliances.

Small Solar Systems Are Transforming Bangladesh - Sun Connect
Bangladesh has become the site of an incredible but underreported solar boom. As of 2009, only 47 percent of Bangladeshi households had access to electricity, but major investments in solar energy have pushed installations of small photovoltaic (PV) systems to 80,000 per month, according to a May report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

New Energy Access Reports

Understanding the Lighting Global Quality Standards and the IEC Technical Specification (IEC/TS 62257-9-5), Lighting Global
Lighting Global has published its latest Technical Notes Issue 18 titled: The IEC Technical Specification on stand-alone lighting kits for rural electrification – IEC/TS 62257-9-5. This Note comes in response to stakeholder need for clarity on current quality tests methods used by the Lighting Global program. The article provides a summary of the Lighting Global Quality Assurance framework and how it relates to the IEC/TS 62257-9-5 document. It also provides guidance on how to use of this information.

Best Practices for Clean Energy Access in Africa, ARE & AEEP
This report is jointly published by the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) and the Africa EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), and is a part of a series of ARE reports. It compiles 20 case studies and business cases that showcase innovative and affordable rural electrification solutions in different African countries. The report aims to enhance the renewable energy market conditions by providing information for suitable regulatory, policy and financial frameworks.

Asia-Pacific Renewable Energy Assessment, Clean Energy Solutions Center
The just-released Asia-Pacific Renewable Energy Assessment (APREA) report provides an overview of the current and possible future costs of renewable electricity generation, as well as renewable generation integration issues, in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Australia. Prepared by Australia's Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) with input from Clean Energy Solutions Center subject matter experts, the report is now available on the Clean Energy Solutions Center website.

After-sales Service and Local Presence: Key Factors for Solar Energy Innovations Diffusion in Developing Countries, Stiftung SolarEnergie
This study investigates the practice of an international network of companies and organizations which are engaged in the diffusion of solar home systems in Africa and Asia. This research looks into a network called "StS Network for Rural Development" in Ethiopia.

New Practitioner Network Members

The Practitioner Network now has over 1,800 members. Welcome to the following:

BraveNewTalent / (United States)
Fondation Energies Pour Le Monde / (France)
Greenlink Energy BV / Netherlands, Tanzania, The Gambia
Kaboni Carbon Consultancy Ltd. / (France)
Meshpower Ltd. / (United Kingdom)
Rago Global Solutions Ltd. / (Nigeria)
Smart Hydro Power GmbH / (Germany)
Waka Waka / (Netherlands)
Wisconsin Energy Institute / (United States)