A global solar conference and expo has opened in Kigali with a call to pool over $2billion needed to connect over one billion people on solar energy systems by the year 2030.
The Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo (GOGSFE) was officially opened by Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure and will run from 18th to 20th October 2022, connecting over 1,000 sector players, manufacturers and experts from over 70 countries.
The Forum was co-hosted by the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global Program and the industry Global Association for Off-grid Solar Energy (GOGLA) – which brings together global private sector players to shape the SDG7- “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”
Koen Peters, the GOGLA Executive Director said that they have committed (in 2021) to reach one billion households by 2030 and so far they have managed to reach 490million (with the biggest uptake in Africa and Asia) since and there is a need to a budget to capture the remaining population.
This commitment included 550million households for first time access, 190million for energy for productive use (business), and 260million with unreliable forms of energy but need a better one to better their livelihoods.
“This is a very big bold target. Focusing on growth alone we won’t get there, we need to focus on sustainability to make sure customers are satisfied. So quality is really crucial,” Peters said.
“This is an ambitious target that needs collaboration with governments and investors and NGOs to reach this target through partnerships and that is why we are here,” Peters said noting that Rwanda is the best place to learn from models of government and private sector partnerships.
So far $2.3billion has been invested in achieving this target but the GOGSFE forum called for more investment to the tune of $20-30billion to not only reach the target but also provide quality solar products and ensure customer uptake.
World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) Advisor, Sameer Shukla, said that the bank has been a key partner broadly in the energy sector, and invested $2.6billion in the last seven years – creating access, standard and affordability but this off-grid funding target will not be achieved by depending on the bank’s resources.
Shukla said that the bank has realized they have limited resources, so they have to operate upscale to ensure impact thus a need for more partnerships and funding sources.
“Our next strategy in the next eight years to 2030 is to leverage resources as much as we can from public and private sectors and non-traditional sources like carbon financing and climate funding,” Shukla said that all this must be done in a homogeneous consolidated manner so as to reach the same objective.
“I think 2030 target is possible but have to create at least $2billion per year and we all have to work together to create the best environment for investment, quality services and policies,” Shukla said.
The World Bank and GOGLA noted that Rwanda is a good example of countries which have utilized availed concessional funds and its model of public private engagement will be a lesson to take home and scale up.
Shukla said that Rwanda, Kenya and Ghana are Africa countries which have proved their potential to scale up investment and access- which humbles the bank to be part of this progress especially Rwanda meeting its 2024 electricity for all target.
Official stats in August 2022 shows that Rwanda has managed to connect 73% of the households and 23% of this is solar against the 100% electricity for all by 2024 target.
Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Eng. Ernest Nsabimana said the country will attain the above target but it will leverage the forum to tap into more investment, set up quality regulations and seek alternative solar systems innovation (like using solar fridges and payments) which enable Rwanda to meet the net zero targets and address challenges in solar subsidy management.