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Power for All Campaign

2018: utilities and the decentralized pivot

 Photo Credit: Zola. Mathieu Young

Photo Credit: Zola. Mathieu Young

“The Future of Energy”--also known as “The Energy Transition”--has been contemplated, discussed, and written about ad nauseam by nearly every scholar and consulting firm working in or around the power sector today. In near perfect alignment, leading experts predict that traditional utilities, in order to survive, must evolve from a centralized system—a mix of sub-stations, regulators, operators, and transmission lines—into one that incorporates a mix of generation technologies, decentralized companies, and new business models.

While it is too early to put traditional utilities on the endangered species list, the entire “Future of Energy” conversation questions whether energy is a good or a service--as well as a right or a privilege--especially in emerging markets. From the Power for All perspective, the utility of the future is one that leaves no one behind. If this is the working model, then the answer lies in which framework will help realize universal energy access before 2030. Indeed, it is an integrated energy framework--an approach that radically desegregates distributed solutions, where grid extension, mini-grids, and standalone systems are given equal consideration in national energy policy and planning--that stands the best chance of ending energy poverty.

As many governments and utilities in countries like Ethiopia or Benin have struggled to deliver on public promises of reliable, quality, affordable, energy for all, private players in the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) sector have designed energy as both a “good” that can be purchased (e.g., in the form of a modular home system or a nano-grid) as well as a service--transforming the way the energy is generated, used and paid for.  Yet even as the sector has marked a decade of growth, innovation and improving the lives of 360 million people, DRE has yet to be truly accepted by the energy establishment, as evidenced by the limited number of countries with thriving DRE markets or the suite of needed DRE-related policies.

Based on Power for All’s work over the last two years at a global and local level, it is the absence of a comprehensive, believable and actionable integrated energy frameworks—co-created by decentralized and centralized energy actors (including engineering, modeling and demonstration projects)—that is limiting the global community’s ability to take full advantage of the entire array of energy solutions to deliver universal access.

To fill this action gap, 2018 is the year that Power for All will focus on organizing the DRE sector to sit at the same table with traditional utilities and accelerate the end of energy poverty. Emboldened by recent utility tie-ups by Power for All partners Fenix (with ENGIE) and Off Grid Electric (with EDF), Power for All will build on 2017’s Call to Action Decentralized Renewables: From Promise to Progress to advance integrated energy planning in low energy access countries (LEAs). This next evolution of Power for All’s advocacy platform will include modeling, collaborations, research and partnerships to help advance  energy planning that involves the systematic analysis of all the factors that influence the design of energy systems, including the full range of options available, and the costs and benefits of different scenarios and technologies.

Granted, some companies in the DRE sector might prefer to fly under the radar or work in countries with weak regulations, thriving on competitive advantage, last-mile distribution and strong marketing tactics alone. However, in order to permanently end misconceptions that DRE is just a CSR program or tool for great give-away publicity stunts, this sector has to be legitimized by the energy establishment. With an integrated approach, governments can make more informed decisions about how to invest scarce public resources, leveraging more private investment and thus maximizing the total investment deployed in pursuit of energy access goals.

As our sector has shown, the “Future of Energy” is already here; it is a dramatically different electricity future that is a participatory system, with homes and businesses around the world are becoming energy producers (as well as consumers) and architects of a new power system. The successful next-generation utility will focus on harnessing these demand-side forces, aligning incentives and operations with consumers and distributed providers. This is a marketplace custom-made for the energy entrepreneurs of the decentralized renewable energy sector. It this is future that will enable power for all.

New energy access frontiers emerging in oft-ignored countries

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is ranked 184 out of 190 on the World Bank's ease of doing business index and 175 on ease of getting electricity. By comparison, Kenya, a favorite of the donor community when it comes to energy access, ranks 92 and 106 respectively. The World Bank recently credited Kenya $150 million to provide solar to under-served communities. 

 A BBOXX crew installing rooftop solar in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo credit: BBOXX)

A BBOXX crew installing rooftop solar in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo credit: BBOXX)

Meanwhile, countries like DRC and others perceived as higher risk, continue to see little if any support from donors and development banks when it comes to energy access, despite their frequent calls to "leave no one behind" in the race to deliver universal electricity access to 1 billion people by 2030.

But ease of doing business isn't the only indicator for entering a market, and while most of the low access countries are still largely ignored by institutional funders, a handful of enterprising private sector companies refuse to wait, and are blazing trails into new countries.

BBOXX, one such company and a leader in the pay-as-you-go ("paygo") model for solar leasing, recently entered the DRC, Pakistan (144 on the World Bank index) and Togo (154). In a recent conversation with Power for All, BBOXX co-founder and CEO Mansoor Hamayun explained his company's rationale for doing so.

"The nature of distributed energy makes us less reliant on who's in government," Hamayun said. "We are looking for three things: customers without electricity, access to mobile money and a good telecom signal."

"We've found that consumers in more difficult places are more willing to shift over to mobile money. There is often a lack of banking infrastructure, so that conversion becomes quite easy. Government rules are also quite relaxed and we are often providing the first experience of customer service of any kind to consumers, which is really exciting and gives us huge opportunities.”

The lack of electricity infrastructure (the DRC grid, when and where available, is often only able to provide 2-3 hours of power a day, with most consumers relying on diesel) also provides an opportunity for private companies to expand the paygo approach into bigger systems. For example, BBOXX is installing solar home systems (SHS) as small as 50W and mini-grids up to 10kW in DRC. The larger systems are grid-compatible if ever reached. Currency risk is also not an issue, since the US dollar is the currency used in DRC. 

"We want to solve poverty, not just access, and to solve the problem, we need SHS, mini-grids and a digitalized grid system," Hamayun says, explaining the all-of-the-above approach. BBOXX is not only targeting rural communities either, but any consumers without reliable, quality access to power, including urban and peri-urban.

And despite challenges in Pakistan, the country has a functioning net-metering policy, which Hamayun calls the "magical answer" to rethinking decentralized solutions, because it enables companies to treat their systems as investments, not costs. 

Pakistan's net-metering policy allows BBOXX to export excess power back into the grid. Rooftop permits allow 10kW and owners typically use only 1kW, so BBOXX can rent the roof, install a system, and share revenue from surplus power with the customer, while absorbing the feed-in tariff. The local utilities also welcome additional storage created by the rooftop systems.

"This flips the coin completely," Hamayun says, adding that BBOXX is already experimenting with the approach in Pakistan. 

African countries have yet to put in place clear rules around storage and net-metering, which Hamayun identified as a barrier to further scale. "The grid and distributed energy are not far apart, it's just a question of metering," he says.

Campaign updates: October 2017


Together with SEforALL, Power for All will launch a new report, "Why Wait? Seizing the Energy Access Dividend" at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn on November. 16. The Energy Access Dividend concept was originally put forward by Power for All in 2016, based on the need to account for the missed opportunities of individuals and nations of not having energy access.

The report explores the benefits that come with faster access to energy services and provides a new framework to measure the economic, social and environmental benefits that result from the accelerated delivery of electricity at the household and national level through DRE solutions. The goal of the report is to offer decision makers an integrated framework through which to assess these benefits, and help identify and prioritize the best path to provide electricity access at an accelerated pace while delivering potentially significant benefits.

The COP launch will highlight the importance of an integrated approach to energy planning that embraces centralized and decentralized solutions. By enabling electricity access through a range of solutions, electricity can be delivered faster to last-mile communities while securing development benefits -– financial, climate change, education. 


Power for All and its partners were key participants in three different important events happening in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. On October 23, a business delegation from the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) met with AfDB’s senior energy leadership to discuss current and upcoming activities on energy access and to discuss areas where the mini-grids developers and operators can help support AfDB to better facilitate progress for the sector.

On October 24, with an open and candid discussion of the issues at an Offgrid Government Industry Dialogue organized by the Global Offgrid Lighting Association (GOGLA). This event saw energy ministries, rural electrification authorities and other government representatives constructively discuss how, as GOGLA puts it in their new policy guidance document, “Energy Access is a Policy Choice.”

The week rounded off with the “Unlocking Solar Capital” event co-organized by Solar Plaza and GOGLA. This event focused again on the hottest topics in finance and policy to help radically scale opportunities for the sector. One of the more interesting sessions discussed Engie’s recent acquisition of solar lighting leader Fenix International, where representatives of both firms discussed the value this will add to their own efforts and to the sector. Engie also noted that this move represents the beginning of much bigger plans in the space.


October was a busy month for the DRE sector in India, starting with the launch of the CLEAN State of the Sector report and ending with the release of a list of India's last-mile electrification top influencers on Twitter and the expansion of the Powering Rural India publication.  

The State of the Sector report received significant attention in India and globally, with stories appearing in IANS (syndicated in Business Standard, Indian Express, etc), India Climate DialoguePV TechDecentralized Energy, and ESI Africa. The report was also widely shared on social media.

Additional coverage was generated for the launch of CEEW's new report on the link between rooftop solar and delivery of healthcare services in rural India, with stories in World Economic ForumImpactAlphaDecentralized Energy, and India Climate Dialogue, with more expected to follow. Also, Power for All worked with CEEW to create a Research Summary of the report.

A two-part podcast interview was also recorded with Emerging Tech Radio (Part 1) and Part 2 to highlight the India-Africa opportunity for collaboration. Power for All also co-authored a piece for World Energy Day with Rockefeller Foundation that appeared in Devex

Upcoming campaign events calendar

Bonn, 7-16 November: UN Climate Change Conference

Be sure to tune in on November 16 when Power for All CEO Kristina Skierka and SEforALL CEO Rachel Kyte release a new joint report, "Why Wait? Seizing the Energy Access Dividend."

Mumbai, 5-7 December: Intersolar India

Power for All will moderate a session at the Intersolar India event, where campaign partner, the Alliance for Rural Electrification, has curated an exciting line-up of sessions and speakers to explore the opportunities and challenges facing the sector. The session is titled "Business enabling policy frameworks for clean off-grid rural electrification".

Noida, India, 7-9 December: Global RE:Invest

Power for All is organizing a session on December 9, the day the International Solar Alliance will be officially launched, to explore the potential for collaboration between India and Sub-Saharan Africa on electricity access. The session is titled "South-South Synergies: ISA-Africa and the opportunity for SDG7 and Beyond". Collaboration between the two regions has the potential to fundamentally alter the trajectory for achieving universal electricity access, and turn it from aspiration to an imminent reality.


Campaign updates: September 2017


Find out about recent activities and the upcoming events where Power for All will be profiling decentralized renewables—and get involved!

September highlights: spreading the word

Globally, Power for All joined representatives from a wide mix of philanthropy, faith-based organizations and civil society, who came together under the SHINE campaign to focus on how the investment requirements, types of capital and philanthropic approaches can work better together to accelerate the end of energy poverty. As a SHINE steering committee member, Power for All has worked to help identify gaps and opportunities to scale DRE. SHINE on!

At the UN General Assembly, Power for All partner SEforALL released Energizing Finance, a report series assessing the flows of capital for energy access. The headline: only 1% of global finance committed to energy access is targeted to decentralized renewables -- 1% for a sector that, by some estimates, will be the source of energy access for 75 million households in Africa by 2025! We congratulate SEforALL and its partners for this important contribution of data and analysis. 

Power for All continues to get the word out on behalf of the DRE sector. We coordinated a sector briefing for the energy and Africa editors at The Economist, working closely with campaign partners GOGLA and the Rockefeller Foundation to present a global, all-inclusive overview of the DRE sector, progress to date and expectations for the future. In addition, our Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK) research team partnered with GTM Research on the first of what we expect to be a series of co-authored pieces - How Deregulations Could Improve Reliability for Cash-Strapped African Utilities.

In India, we supported the launch of a new ground-breaking study by the  Council of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) on the positive impact of distributed rooftop solar on rural health centers, supporting on media outreach as well as co-developing a research summary. As part of the effort, we also coordinated a webinar hosted by Smart Villages and Low Carbon Energy for Development Network and featuring CEEW, SELCO Foundation and Oxfam India (see below). In addition, we worked with Smart Power India to highlight the important role mini-grids played during the recent flooding (see this resulting Forbes article - How Off-Grid Renewable Energy Came To The Rescue In India's Flood Zones). And we got the word out about Mitsui’s investment in OMC Power  through solar trade media outlet PV-Tech.

We continue to spotlight the amazing work happening in India, and if you haven’t yet, please check out and follow the new publication Powering Rural India (nearly 600 subscribers and growing). Our plan is to gradually extend the publication’s remit beyond India to include other key countries and regions.

In Nigeria, Power For All represented the sector in a range of policy, finance, technology and trade high-level meetings, providing input on achieving the SEforALL goals in Nigeria, raising awareness about the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP), developing the National Renewable Energy Framework Bill and scaling biogas production. The various fora included the National Council on Power annual meeting, a body of federal and state-level power policymakers, the Abuja International Trade Fair (together with campaign partner GVE Partners), The Funding Space.

The Funding Space session, which also includes USAID, GIZ and All-On, will focus on de-risking the renewable energy sector and look at better financing models in Nigeria. Also at the of September, Power for All will also participate in two workshop focused on the Niger Delta: the 9th Niger Delta Dialogue organized by AA PeaceWorks and sponsored by the European Union to analyze and review the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP) developed by the Inter Ministerial Committee and cutting across key areas including infrastructure, environment, oil and gas, security, livelihoods and jobs; and the “Access to Energy for a Rural Niger Delta Renaissance” workshop organized by the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) discussing practical barriers to delivering electricity to rural areas.

October: campaign events calendar

Abidjan, 3-5 October: Africa Mini-Grids Community of Practice

Our Sierra Leone campaign director Ami Dumbuya will be presenting at the Africa Mini-Grids Community of Practice gathering of government decision makers. The goal of the meeting is to create a community of senior peers within African governments, who can support each other in the design and implementation of policies and programs aimed at accelerating energy access and rural development through the application of mini-grid power systems. You can learn more about our work in Sierra Leone here.

Brussels, 23-25 October: Global Science Technology and Innovation Conference (G-STIC)

Power for All is a “thematic partner” for the energy track of G-STIC. The event aims to help the international community, including the UN system, understand what is happening in technology innovation related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event, which will bring together leading innovators from the private sector and research institutions, is organized by VITO (the prime research and technology organization on cleantech and sustainable development in Belgium) and its international partners AIT (Asian Institute of Technology), IITD (Indian Institute of Technology) and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute).

Maputo, 25-26 October: Renewables in the Electrification of Mozambique

Power for All partner ALER, with the support from the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Program (RECP), is bringing together European and African renewable energy businesses, developers and policy-makers to focus on the contribution of renewable energy technologies for the electrification of Mozambique, in line with its National Electrification Strategy under preparation to achieve universal access by 2030. Participants will exchange information about the investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector, including in the on- and off-grid markets.


SEforALL launches newly updated ‘heat maps’: highlighting 20 "high impact" countries facing sustainable energy challenges

 Photo Credit: SEforAll

Photo Credit: SEforAll

Power for All partner SEforAll recently launched an updated interactive addition to their website, called "heat maps". Relying on data from their knowledge partners, the maps graphically highlight countries and regions that are making the most progress, as well as those that are facing the biggest challenges, on major sustainable energy issues. 

The "heat maps" target four key areas of sustainable development: clean cooking, electricity access, energy efficiency and renewable energy—which all focus specifically on access. 

All of these "heat maps" identify 20 "high impact" countries facing sustainable energy challenges across the four access categories. "In the case of electricity access and clean cooking, for example, the high-impact countries are all in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia." SEforAll has posted fact sheets for each key indicator on their website, illuminating key trends and countries making the biggest leaps.

“By combining and analyzing data in these heat maps, we can show global leaders where they can make the biggest and fastest inroads towards our goal of universal energy access for all by 2030,” said Jane Olga Ebinger, Director of Policy at SEforALL, “The maps also show where big gains are happening so that we can replicate the success of others and help leaders in government, business and civil society make smart choices.”

Ebinger will be posting blogs on the heat maps in the next few weeks, and SEforAll will be posting guest blogs from their partners— as well as promoting the "heat maps" on social media via their hashtag #SDG7HeatMaps.

Most of the data used to create these maps comes from 2017 Global Tracking Framework, which SEforAll has used to assesses progress toward sustainable energy goals since 2013. "The Framework uses available data from household surveys and international databases to track access to electricity, clean cooking sources, improvements in energy intensity and increases in the share of renewable energy compared to overall energy consumption."

"The maps also draw on data from the Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy–commonly known as RISE–which evaluate 111 countries on the quality of their policies and regulations for energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency."

For further details on the heat maps or any interview requests, please contact:
Beth Woodthorpe-Evans at Sustainable Energy for All | +1 202 390 1042




2016-17 Global LEAP Awards for Off-Grid TVs & Fans Announced


Winners and Finalists of the 2016-17 Global LEAP Awards for Outstanding Off-Grid Televisions and Fans were announced today by USAID’s Power Africa Beyond the Grid program. Power for All partner d.light won the medium television category, and our partners BBOXX and Mobisol were finalists in the large television and medium television categories, respectively. Congrats and we're proud to have you on the Power for All campaign!

This year’s competitions identified the world's best, most energy-efficient off-grid fans and televisions. Detailed information about all Global LEAP Awards Winners and Finalists – including product performance data and sales contact information – is available in the 2017 Global LEAP Awards Buyer’s Guide. Anybody interested in off-grid appliances is encouraged to review the Buyer’s Guide and contact Winners and Finalists for more information.

Global LEAP Awards Winners and Finalists are eligible for a new procurement incentives program based in East Africa and Bangladesh, supported by EnDev, Power Africa, and US DOE. Information on this program will be made available on as it becomes available.

The Global LEAP Awards for Outstanding Off-Grid Televisions and Fans are supported by Power Africa and US DOE.The Global LEAP Awards for Outstanding Off-Grid Refrigerators will be announced in January 2018, and are supported by USAID’s Global Development Lab, UK DFID’s Ideas to Impact programme, and Power Africa.

Campaign Update: July-August 2017

Find out about recent activities and the upcoming events where Power for All will be profiling decentralized renewables—and get involved!

July/August Highlights: 200 campaign partners

Momentum for the DRE sector continues to grow, with Power for All recently surpassing 200 campaign partners. We’re very proud and honored to welcome many new global partners including Christian Aid, Florence School of Regulation, Hivos, Rockefeller Foundation, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Smart Villages, Solar Sister, The Resources and Energy Institute (TERI)World Resources Institute (WRI) and among others (see the whole coalition here). 

Globally, both campaign CEO Kristina Skierka and deputy director Aaron Leopold participated in the recent Mission Innovation meeting in Paris at the IEA, sharing key learnings and emphasizing the need to support an enabling environment, not just business and financial models — and rethinking investments away from only technology R&D to ecosystem development that boosts demand from the communities that companies serve.

 Energy access practitioners at a Mission Innovation event hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

Energy access practitioners at a Mission Innovation event hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

Power for All launched an India country page on its website, with sector profiles and updates drawn from the new Powering Rural India publication, as well as partner reports. Please let us know if you have anything to share, and if you’re interested in joining the India DRE communications secretariat that we started earlier this year, please email with Subject: India DRE communications secretariat.

In Nigeria, Power for All has been very active as a partner in convening several key sector meetings. Power for All was a strategic partner at the Nigerian Energy Forum 2017, which focused on Sustainable Energy for Economic Development. Country campaign manager Ify Malo gave a presentation on opportunities and barriers for renewable energy in the off-grid sector. The event is an annual capacity building, training, and development program for the energy sector in Nigeria and other African countries. Power for All was also a technical partner at TechPlus 2017, Africa’s largest technology conference, where we developed and curated the first ever renewable energy track session, which brought together representatives from government, development banks, investment funds, solar developers, technology providers, IPPs, EPCs and other solar stakeholders to discuss the “Renewable PAYG Revolution, Developing Market for Tech Solutions in Renewable Energy, Financing and Incentives, and Future Potential and Growth.” The event was well attended, with over 700 unique visitors to the Power For All stand with a number of new participants joining the campaign in Nigeria and across Africa. Power for All also presented on the politics of the solar industry at the Innovative Technologies in Development exposition organized by Crown Agents and the British Department for International Trade, with Ify Malo highlighting significant opportunities for advocacy and civil society to accelerate the industry. Finally, Power for All, the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) were part of a public hearing organized by the local chapter of the Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE Nigeria) led by Dr. Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ecology & Climate Change. The hearing, which was held at the National Assembly complex and coordinated by Heinrich Böll Foundation, had both members of the House and Senate Committees on Power, Environment and Climate Change. Power for All  spoke about how lack of clear legislative frameworks in the DRE sector are limiting the potential for development, job growth and productivity across the country.

September/October: Campaign Events Calendar

Barcelona, 4-6 September: 5th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum

Power for All’s Aaron Leopold and William Brent will speak at this event on the topics of women leadership in clean energy development, microgrid productive uses and the latest developments in India. Off-grid, remote & island systems will be a key focus of the event, which brings together top microgrid experts to examine key case studies, tech advances, and business models. Enter the special code “P4ALL” for a 15% discount when registering.

Lusaka, 4-5 September: Energy Access Practitioners Training

In collaboration with Practical Action, Club-ER, Alliance for Rural Electrification and Strathmore University’s Energy Research Center, the Africa EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) Energy Access Work Stream will lead an Energy Access Practitioners Training during the 2nd General Assembly of the African Association for Rural Electrification. The target audiences are staff of rural electrification agencies (REAs) in the region, and the goal of this training is to strengthen decision-making capacity across African REAs and to learn from collective experience in rural electrification planning and policy implementation. Power for All’s research director Dr. Rebekah Shirley will facilitate training sessions on mini-grid business and tariff pricing models.

Brussels, 23-25 October: Global Science Technology and Innovation Conference (G-STIC)

Power for All is a “thematic partner” for the energy track of G-STIC. The event aims to help the international community, including the UN system, understand what is happening in technology innovation related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event, which will bring together leading innovators from the private sector and research institutions, is organized by VITO (the prime research and technology organization on cleantech and sustainable development in Belgium) and its international partners AIT (Asian Institute of Technology), IITD (Indian Institute of Technology) and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute).