Beyond access: elevating the DRE narrative

The decentralized renewable energy (DRE) sector is entering a new phase, one that goes “beyond access” and instead focuses on co-benefits, dividends, outcomes, improved livelihoods, productive uses -- whatever term you prefer -- that both satisfy consumer aspirations, but also power rural economies.

Providing a “connection”, or access, is still essential, but it’s not enough, especially if those connections are poor quality and unreliable (as grid connections often are).

Such an evolution requires different stories, different narratives, and different content. It also requires engaging different stakeholders -- the stakeholders who directly benefit from energy access.

That’s why Power for All and a coalition of partners launched #PoweringJobs, because job creation influences governments when they make investment decisions. Similarly, it’s why our partner the UN Foundation has focused on healthcare with its #PoweringHC initiative. Other examples are surfacing: for example, AGRA and Oxfam announced recently that "over the next 18 months we will be working to make the case for a massive increase in support for adaptation to climate change in Africa and around the world." Resilient energy infrastructure like decentralized renewable solutions were cited as an important element to that work.

To support these linkages, Power for All is redoubling its efforts to tell a different story, in different formats, in support of the DRE sector. This will include more visual story-telling (see SDG7@Work and our latest video on mini-grids) as well as story-telling via channels and events that are non-energy related.

But most importantly, it requires close partnership with companies, civil society, investors and government to “co-create” the content that delivers this new narrative. Some great recent examples: our collaborations with partners REEEP and Fenix International on job creation in Zambia, with Mee Panyar on the transition from diesel to solar in Myanmar, and our participation in the recent Powering Healthcare conference.

We need more. We need you. If you have a “beyond access” story to tell email contribution(at)powerforall.org. You can also learn more about what we’re looking through our contributor guidelines.

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