At COP27: Public funding to support private sector innovation and scale-up to increase clean energy access
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At COP27: Public funding to support private sector innovation and scale-up to increase clean energy access

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On 10 November 2022, Nefco and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland arranged a side event at COP27 on how to support the development and scale-up of climate solutions and energy access in rural areas. Focus was on developing the agricultural sector and improving food security in Africa. Insights by representatives from the private sector, Nordic governments and intergovernmental organisations were complemented by local perspectives from Uganda and Zambia.

In her opening remarks, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norwegian Minister of International Development, highlighted that “We need renewable energy for development, access to energy and mitigation purposes” and that “we need global cooperation” to support this. Norway also announced its EUR 19 million contribution to the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) programme in connection to the event to support programme expansion and intensification of activities in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Uganda and Zambia.

Forests play a key role in building resilience to climate change in Africa, in particular for rural communities, and agriculture depends on forests, explained Amy Duchelle, Senior Forestry Officer at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in her keynote speech. According to a report published by FAO in 2020, Africa had the highest rate of net forest loss in 2010-2020 with 3.9 million hectares annually.

The Finnish Catch the Carbon initiativepresented by Lotta Heikkonen, Chief Climate Specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, forms part of Finland’s target to become climate neutral by 2050. The current portfolio of 120 projects includes pilot projects and research studies connected to different aspects of how to transform the agricultural sector in Finland. Heikkonen commented that the eventually future hope is to share the results, ideas and methodologies from the funded projects outside Finland.

Joshua Kabugo, Digital and Energy Finance Specialist at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), highlighted the huge potential of increasing clean energy access for the agricultural sector from a Ugandan perspective and how it will prolong farming seasons, increase job opportunities and help to extend the shelf life of products by enabling cold storage possibilities for farmers.

Zambia is committed to achieving the Agenda 2030 target, explained Mukabanji Mutanuka, Head of Business Development at ENGIE Energy Access, a BGFA-awarded company. Mutanuka highlighted that energy access in rural areas of Zambia needs to increase from 4.5% to 51% by 2030 and the current 2% from renewable energy sources needs to grow to 15% to achieve the 2030 target.

ENGIE Energy Access provides energy products from solar home systems to mini-grids and is scaling up its business activities through a broader strategic focus and undertaking a comprehensive approach to unlock Income Generating Activities capacity. This means that ENGIE is looking into the affordability aspect and reliability of power generation as well as how to generate new business opportunities, increase productivity and reduce production costs, at the same time. It also provides training on the use of its appliances. Mutanuka summarises her key messages at the end by emphasising that “electricity access on its own will not be able to deliver results.”

During the panel discussion, Russell Lyseight, Managing Director at VITALITE Zambia, another BGFA-awarded company, explained that 85% of VITALITE’s customers are connected to agriculture and that the company is constantly developing its products to support the transformation of the agricultural sector and energy access in rural areas. VITALITE provides a large portfolio of solar home system products.

However, Lyseight underlines the importance of partnerships to learn about the agricultural field and acquiring the knowledge required to develop the products to support the transformation. Lyseight also highlighted the importance of public financial programmes to support research and product development as well as business expansion and scale-up once the business case has been established.

Stig Traavik, Director at the Department for Climate and Environment at Norad, commented that a major reason for it joining the BGFA programme as a contributor is its aim to further help to scale up and replicate the success of the first results of the programme and that BGFA has an integrated approach. In addition, Norway sees a need for more opportunities for small businesses to try out and pilot its activities.

Based on the discussions and presentations during the event, it is evident that innovation exists and that companies are keen on testing the market and helping to support the transformation, but financing for both piloting and market expansion is needed.

BGFA also participated in events at the Danish pavilion and Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) pavilion during COP27:

  • Transition Path for Scaling Up Solar: Leveraging investment and business innovation, arranged by the World Resources Institute, P4G and CONCITO at the Danish pavilion. Read more about the event here.
  • Renewable Energy for Climate Action and Economic Transformation in Africa: The Role of the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), managed by the African Development Bank. Read more about the event here.

For further information

See the event recording on Nefco’s YouTube channel and the event page for more information.

For more information about BGFA, please visit the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa or contact:

Ash Sharma, Vice President of Special Funds at Nefco, +358 10 618 06 53

Lia Oker-Blom, Senior Communications Officer at Nefco, +358 10 618

Photo (from left): Amy Duchelle, FAO, Lotta Heikkonen, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norwegian Minister of International Development, Ash Sharma, Nefco and Stig Traavik, Norad.

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