Sustainable Energy Services Africa (SESA) Programme – Closing Event
Posted by: Anouk Verheijen and Wieteke Gondrie, Senior Consultants, Sustainable Business Practices
The small scale solar sector in Sub-Saharan Africa is a promising market in terms of the unmet need for clean, reliable and affordable power and light. What are the trends in the sector for the coming 5 to 10 years? What can solar companies learn from market players serving Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets in other sectors? What innovative business models and approaches can be used under which market conditions to further grow the sector? These were some of the questions raised, discussed, and moved forward during the Sustainable Energy Services Africa (SESA) programme closing event, which took place from 7-8 October in Nairobi, Kenya.
The SESA programme is a public-private partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Philips and is implemented by Enclude, together with ETC Foundation. The programme focuses on accelerating the market for small scale, off-grid energy products (predominantly but not exclusively solar lighting) in 4 Sub-Saharan countries, namely Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. This project, which started in 2007 and is coming to an end this year, has tested various business models by providing grant financing to projects set up by businesses, NGO’s and business associations.
During the SESA closing event, attended by project implementers from all 4 countries, participants were challenged to come up with new ideas to further grow the small scale solar sector in their respective countries. These ideas were formulated based on sector trends shared by industry experts; inspiration sessions from BOP sector players operating outside the solar sector (cookstoves, mobile technology and health care); and lessons learned from business models and approaches tested under the SESA programme. New ideas pitched by the participants included the establishment of an African based solar energy incubator and accelerator, a franchise / pop-up shop model to distribute solar products to last-mile customers, and development of a green battery.