Over 600 million people in Sub Saharan Africa are not connected to the national grid. And despite the region’s abundance of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, these resources have not been fully tapped to bridge a yawning energy gap that is attributed to cost and access hiccups.
Efficiency for Access is a coalition working to address this issue by accelerating energy access through appliances.
The Coalition – which is coordinated by CLASP, a global appliance energy efficiency and market development NGO, and Energy Saving Trust, which works on energy efficiency product verification, data insight and research – targets various sectors, including agriculture and healthcare, among others.
FairPlanet spoke to Yasemin Erboy Ruff, James Wakaba and Mike Maina from CLASP about addressing energy poverty in Sub Saharan Africa, the nexus between energy and agriculture at a time when demand for food is growing due to sharp rise in population and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the off-grid appliances sector.
FairPlanet: Briefly highlight for us the interventions you’ve undertaken in accelerating clean energy access in agriculture through the #EfficiencyforAgTech campaign.
CLASP: At CLASP, We have been working with Energy Saving Trust, which specialises in energy efficiency product verification, data and insight, advice and research to co-manage the low energy inclusive appliances programme, a five-year research and innovation initiative that focuses on off grid appropriate appliances.
The programme seeks to double the efficiency and halve the cost of appliances.
We have been keen on promoting efficiency and affordability to encourage uptake with a view to supporting SDG Goal 7 on energy access. Our approach has been to not only give people a light bulb, but also a livelihood, and to touch on the other SDGS, including getting people out of poverty and reducing hunger.
A lot of the work we are involved in is in research and innovation. We work with test labs, we try to gauge the quality of various appliances and their performances, make recommendations and support innovations in the sector through R&D grants.
Other programmes under the Efficiency for Access Coalition and CLASP include campaigns to create awareness on some of the appliances that we promote. We have a goal to cover as many appliances as possible, but our main focus has been on solar water pumps, solar powered refrigerators, TVs, fans and […] recently, electric pressure cookers.
In agriculture, we have looked at the water, energy and food nexus. We have worked with companies to promote the sale of efficient solar water pumps, focusing on smallholder farmers. We have developed test methods for solar water pumps. We invite manufacturers to develop highly efficient appliances that consume less power and are affordable.
What are typically the reach and impact of your interventions?
Through our interventions, the quality of life has improved and farming costs reduced, among other impacts.
In Kenya, for example, we have promoted the sale of more than 2,000 solar water pumps and worked with 11 companies; this has been crucial for the companies to reach markets that wouldn’t primarily be reached.
The fact that these appliances are sold using the Pay as You Go system helps the companies, because they have to bear all the costs.
We have also moved into consumer awareness in order to understand what the consumers want. This also helps in connecting manufacturers with consumers.
We have learnt that …….