Press Release: Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia Receives UN Global Climate Action Award

Press Release: Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia Receives UN Global Climate Action Award

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Madrid, 10 December 2019 – The Swedish-funded Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia is among 15 winners of this year’s UN Global Climate Action Awards, which were awarded today during a ceremony at COP25’s Action Hub. The UN Global Climate Action Awards recognise highly innovative, scalable and replicable initiatives tackling climate change.

Using an innovative results-based financing and risk-sharingapproach called Social Impact Procurement, the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia(BGFZ) has in two years connected nearly 800,000 people to clean and affordableoff grid energy services.

Earlier this year, the Swedish International DevelopmentCooperation Agency (Sida) announced the launch of a new Beyond the Grid Fundfor Africa, which will aim to replicate the BGFZ approach in Burkina Faso,Liberia and Mozambique, and launch an additional funding round in Zambia. TheBeyond the Grid Fund for Africa will be managed by the Nordic EnvironmentFinance Corporation (NEFCO) as Facility Manager, and implemented by REEEP.  Itaims to reach at least five million beneficiaries by 2025.

“This year, we had over 670 incredible applications for theUN Global Climate Action Award,” said Niclas Svenningsen, Manager of the UNClimate Change Global Climate Action Programme. 

“It is our pleasure to award Beyond the Grid Fund forZambia. Their clean and affordable alternative to grid electricity serves as abeacon, guiding us towards a more sustainable future for all. 

“With the ambitious goal of delivering quick-to-deployenergy access to at least five million people over the next six years, thisproject provides a shining example of a scalable and replicable climatesolution,” Svenningsen concluded.

“The BGFZ shows how an early vision of scale, and anopenness to new ways of partnering, can drive  innovation, demonstrateworkable solutions to breaking with the business as usual scenario and havereal impact on achieving the SDGs. For Sida, the success of the fund is furtherproof that we need to reconsider our traditional role as primarily a financierof development and take a more active role in co-creating developmentsolutions,” says Carin Jämtin, Director General, Sida.

Speaking at the opening of a series of stakeholder workshopsfor the new Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, part of the design phase of a newfunding round, the Zambian Minister of Energy, Mathew Nkhuwa MP, expressed hissupport for the expansion:

“The first round of the Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia hasproduced promising results. [It has] brought down the risks and lowered thebarriers to entry for new market participants and innovative business models.We urgently need a long-term solution to our energy needs, and this can only beachieved through working together. [This is why] initiatives like the Beyondthe Grid Fund for Africa need to be supported.”

Mr. Stephen Mwansa of the Zambian Office of the VicePresident commented: “We are happy that as Zambians, we have becometrailblazers in Smart energy solutions, and that the success of the Beyond theGrid Fund operations in Zambia has led to other countries deciding to apply thesame model under the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa. We look forward toexchanging ideas and opportunities with Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mozambique asthey launch their own activities under the Beyond the Grid Fund concept.”

BGFZ was launched in 2016 by the Swedish Embassy in Lusakawith the aim to radically expand access to clean off-grid energy, such as homesolar systems and mini-grids, in rural and peri-urban Zambia. BGFZ isco-designed by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP),and Sida. The programme has to date awarded results-based contracts to fourcompanies with pro-poor business models deemed ready for rapid scale-up. Inaddition, the fund works closely with the government, the renewable energyindustry and other development partners in its efforts to build a thrivingmarket for off-grid energy services.

In a country where some 70% of the population does not haveaccess to modern energy, BGFZ has kick-started a market for affordable,reliable and clean energy services provided by the private sector. Though theoriginal goal was to connect one million people by 2021, the four contractedcompanies are on track to reach 1.6 million by the programme end date.

The BGFZ approach rests on three pillars: an innovativefinancing mechanism built on risk-sharing and transparent criteria, closecollaboration with, the renewable energy industry, government and investorsthrough the newly established Off-Grid Energy Task Force and unique marketintelligence generation through the custom-built data hub EDISON. Theprogramme’s progress can be followed live via EDISON’s public dashboard,accessible at

Andreas Zahner, Programme Director at REEEP, said: “We are honoured by this Global Climate Action award, which comes at a perfect time as we start working to replicate the success of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia in three more countries. We look forward to sharing lessons learned and future plans for the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa at COP25 in Chile, together with our partners from Sida and NEFCO.”

For any media inquiries, please contact Maria van Veldhuizen, Senior Communications and Outreach Manager at REEEP, at

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