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Posted on April 15, 2016

Posted by: Anouk Verheijen, Senior Consultant, Sustainable Business Practices

Providing commercially viable and affordable off-grid clean energy products and services to Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) costumers is a big ask.  It requires both efficiency and scale. How can this be achieved?

There is no one size fits all.  Different countries, different districts, different cultures and different infrastructures lead to different market ecosystems.  But this lofty goal is a worthwhile one: getting truly clean energy alternatives to the clients that traditional energy infrastructures are failing to serve is a win for people and the environment.

The Sustainable Energy Services for Africa (SESA) programme, a public-private partnership between Philips Lighting and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been working hard to find the best ways to reach the most underserved clients.  Over 8 years, SESA has tested a variety of business models to accelerate delivery of off-grid clean energy services to BOP clients in the market ecosystems of 4 African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Enclude, together with ETC Foundation, implemented this programme from 2007-2015.

The results are striking. The programme supported 14 initiatives carried out by a whole ecosystem of stakeholders, including off-grid clean energy companies, NGOs, and other sector organizations. In these pilots, over 1200 agents and 800 teachers were trained in the most efficient methods for servicing the real needs of BOP clients.  Over 1 million people were reached via awareness campaigns and almost 40,000 consumer products were sold, showing there is real market potential in servicing the BOP clients that currently have very few clean energy options.

Various business models were tested for their replicability.  The model designs varied depending on the social, health, and environmental advantages most important in each local community.  For example, the SESA programme assisted Philips in the commercialisation of various BOP products including clean cookstoves, combating one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths among BOP women and children.  SESA assisted in testing pay-as-you-go technologies and exploring business models integrating the sales of biomass and cook stoves.  The program also helped set up Community Life Centres (CLCs), off-grid power solutions which deliver power to BOP communities via a local kiosk/container through a solar system. From this “kiosk” a portfolio of sustainable energy services are provided, which are site specific, but can include indoor and outdoor lighting, healthcare services, and communication services. Under the SESA programme In Kenya alone, Enclude supported community mobilisation and organisation for CLCs, and led the associated measurement of social and environmental impact. Currently, over 9,000 people are benefitting from solar powered community services at these installed sites, and the numbers are growing.

Download the magazine to find out much more about these initiatives, and the most efficient and scalable alternatives in the new SESA Magazine: Sustainable Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA): Routes to Market.

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