Fostering investment, breaking down barriers and data transparency help drive off-grid project bankability
Catania – The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) gathered over 200 participants in Catania, Italy from 13-15 March 2018 for the 4th edition of the ARE Energy Access Investment Forum organised in partnership with Renewable Energy Solutions for the Mediterranean and Africa (RES4MED&Africa) and the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP).
The ARE Energy Access Investment Conference Day on 13 March 2018 provided participants with a comprehensive view of the clean-energy sector policy framework and key industry trends to foster the integration of remote communities into emerging economies around the world. The event, including the European Commission’s Workshop on the Energy Digital Nexus, was an opportunity for investors, project developers and other stakeholders to learn more about upcoming support schemes, innovative products and new business models to accelerate rural electrification and advance the market for decentralised renewable energies.
Vivian Vendeirinho, ARE’s new President: “ARE works in the framework built by the SDG7 in order to support sustainable development for rural communities. ARE’s Membership has developed incredibly in the last 10 years, reaching over 150 Members by end of last year – a clear statement that the market has reached a tipping point. Now, we want to focus on initiating more Member partnerships to validate the sector and demonstrate its scalability. This will help provide real added value for our Members: creating direct business opportunities in the energy access space.”
The presence of high-level representatives from developing organisations active in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as from the private sector, financing bodies and technology providers allowed key players involved in the off-grid sector to engage in networking activities. Leaders called for a strategic and holistic approach to develop sustainable business models in the off-grid sector. A key topic was the need to intensify multilateral efforts to allow for the deployment of hybridised solutions such as mini-grids and to break down regulatory, technical and local barriers. In addition, cross-sectoral partnerships with the agricultural, water and digital sector should be privileged where synergies are possible.
Roberto Vigotti, RES4Africa: “Decentralised renewable energy solutions are central to electrify rural areas in Africa and beyond. RES4Africa is proud to support the ambition of the ARE Energy Access Investment Forum as the key annual meeting platform that promotes progress for energy access around the world.”
The Forum also gave recognition to companies and organisations, which have made special contributions to advance the rural electrification sector. In its third year running, this year’s ARE Awards were discerned to:
- EUEI PDF (Multilateral / International Organisations)
- Shamwana Hospital (NGOs and Foundations)
- Autarsys (Private Sector in Developed Countries)
- Rift Valley Energy (Private Sector in Developing Countries)
- Sarawak Energy (Government in Developing Country)
- Ensol and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (Best Off-grid Project)
- ColdHubs (Best Start-Up; new category)
The Business Matchmaking Day on 14 March 2018 (supported by RECP) featured a series of panel discussions with selected DFIs and private sector representatives on off-grid data collection and investment, project financing tools and new initiatives, including a presentation on the deployment of renewable energy tender programmes in Africa. In the afternoon, 135 participants took part in more than 450 B2B meetings where participants had the chance to meet with potential business partners.
Jan Cloin, RECP Project Manager: “The Forum provides an excellent opportunity for developers in the off-grid sector to meet partners, learn about investment opportunities and obtain support towards financially closing business deals. ARE proves to operate at the heart of the fast growing off-grid sector and we are pleased to be partnering with them on this event.”