22 SEPTEMBER 2016: Today, representatives from all commercial banks and micro-finance institutions in Sierra Leone join officials from the government and members of the Renewable Energy Association in a workshop to establish ways the financial sector can help to catalyze the household solar market to accelerate energy access.
Unlocking finance for local private sector companies, and creating consumer financing solutions, is key to enabling families to access and purchase solar lighting and energy products. The workshop will profile the financial innovations and solutions that have led to the rapid growth of decentralized solar energy markets in other African countries, and the latest developments emerging in Sierra Leone.
The event will include presentations from Koen Peters, the Executive Director of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association, Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie, Sector Lead of Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business, Charlie Miller, Director of National Programs at Power for All, and Richard Rose, Private Sector Development Advisor at the UK Department for International Development.
Members of the Renewable Energy Association of Sierra Leone will also profile their work to bring solar lighting products and solar home systems to families across the country. Companies and investors will discuss challenges and opportunities faced in accessing and providing financing in order to explore successful solutions for the Sierra Leone market.
Charlie Miller, Director of National Programs at Power for All, noted:
“Unlocking finance is key to increasing energy access in Sierra Leone. The challenge is a big one, but the last few years have seen an explosion in financial innovation and a sharp increase in investor interest in decentralized renewables. It is great to see such interest from the local investment community in learning about these innovations and business models. Commercial banks and micro-finance institutions will be key catalysts of the Sierra Leone Energy Revolution and they have a unique opportunity to enable millions of homes and businesses to access to clean, modern energy."
Financial support for local private sector companies, as well as consumer financing solutions which enable low-income customers to purchase solar products, have been pivotal to the growth of the world’s largest decentralized solar energy markets.
Successful examples of financing innovation in the decentralized solar sector can be seen in Bangladesh, where engagement by the infrastructure bank, micro-finance organizations and other key financial players has enabled almost six million people to purchase solar home systems and water pumps, and Kenya, where mobile phone enabled payment systems for customers have contributed to a strong market environment for decentralized solar. 15-20 percent of the population in Kenya now benefits from solar lighting and energy products.
Currently in Sierra Leone, 87 percent of the population lacks modern energy and families spend an average of 10-15 percent of their annual income on alternatives, such as batteries, torches and diesel generators. Switching from these alternatives to solar lighting and energy products will save the people of Sierra Leone $105 million a year, and improve productivity and opportunity.
For more information, quotes and images, please contact Power for All Sierra Leone Campaign Leader Ami Dumbuya: