Places without competitive energy markets
With 272,000 people, there are more people living in Bidibidi, a refugee settlement and its surrounding communities in north western Uganda, than in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Despite these impressive population figures, access to clean, affordable and reliable energy is restricted due to the weak market in the Bidibidi camp. A weak market means that the choice of products is limited and that the products available are either too expensive, of low quality or lack simple post-sales services. Mercy Corps joined the Access to Modern Energy accelerator programme with the objective of finding the best solutions that would ultimately stimulate and de-risk the private sector entry into displacement settings such as the Bidibidi refugee settlement.
Diversified and sustainable
Mercy Corps was looking for partners that could help them set up sustainable and functioning markets for refugees and host community members, whilst also guaranteeing that these markets are accessible to all segments. Ultimately, the energy products available to the communities should be diversified and the energy solutions sustainable and affordable. Cecilia Ragazzi, Senior Advisor on Access to Energy at Mercy Corps: “From our perspective as Mercy Corps, but also from the perspective of the partners we are working with, we can see that communities in displacement settings are struggling to get quality energy products and services that could really fulfil their energy needs that are required to develop themselves and live more productive and qualitatively better lives.”
Partners that fit the profile
In the ‘find’ stage, Mercy Corps found three partners that fit the profile: The Foundation Rural Energy Services (FRES), ENVenture, and Green Innovation Ventures. These three partners offer tailored energy solutions, such as multifunctional platforms but also products such as solar home systems, solar lanterns, and television sets, but also training and acceleration programs for energy cooperatives, as well as payment solutions. The DCHI accelerator programme’s structure helped Mercy Corps and its partners to find the right coordination. Cecilia Ragazzi: “What I really appreciated [about the programme] was the fact that it is quite systematic. We have tackled the initial challenge in quite a formal way. And really all the workshops that we’ve done together brought up more and more the different strengths that each organisation could bring to the project.”
The four partners have already identified small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), created multifunctional energy platforms, and provided a platform to sell energy through. In the long-term, Mercy Corps is hoping to scale the model of this project to other camps. Cecilia Ragazzi: “We propose a space in which SMEs, identified by our partners, can get together to produce products. This solution ensures sustainability as it creates functioning energy markets for refugees and host community members whilst guaranteeing inclusive interventions that can be accessed by all consumer segments.”
Sustainability through ownership
The idea is clear for Mercy Corps. Instead of just setting up a project, providing goods, and then pulling out, this new project should be sustainable in the sense that local stakeholders should take immediate ownership of the solutions from the onset, thereby ensuring its longevity. Cecilia Ragazzi: “We want to have the necessary ecosystem in place. Our hope for ten years from now is that we are not required to do these types of programmes anymore. We wish to see that communities can access cleaner energy products and services independently from us.”
Innovation steps towards impact
Private sector entry
How can we stimulate and de-risk the private sector entry into displacement settings such as the Bidibidi refugee settlement?
Tailored energy solutions
The three partners offer tailored energy solutions, such as multifunctional platforms but also products such as solar home systems, solar lanterns, and television sets but also training and acceleration programs for energy cooperatives, as well as payment solutions
The partners have already identified small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), created multifunctional energy platforms, and provided a platform to sell energy through.
“We want to have the necessary ecosystem in place. Our hope for ten years from now is that we are not required to do these types of programmes anymore. We wish to see that communities can access cleaner energy products and services independently from us.”
Movement for modern energy in humanitarian settings
Read the challenges of the Humanitarian Organisations involved in the Accelerator Programme. Would you like to share your energy stories, challenge or solutions? Submit it to our demand and supply platform, Source2Gather. Or join us at the upcoming Energy and Innovation Summit on 13 April 2021. We’re committed to matching today’s challenges with tomorrow’s solutions.
Access To Modern Energy Programme
The AME programme is about doing new things to solve problems and improve the quality of renewable energy access in humanitarian programmes around the world. Access to Modern Energy is increasingly recognized as an area of humanitarian concern. If communities affected by crises go without proper access to energy, it becomes impossible for them to meet the basic needs of life. The programme enables humanitarian organisations to be the catalysts for tackling specific energy challenges, whilst opening themselves up to receiving the knowledge and business insights from energy experts and private-sector partnerships. Ultimately, the projects will provide local insights for humanitarian partnerships to enable cost efficiency and improve quality of humanitarian work. DCHI brings together humanitarian organisations, research and educational institutes, businesses of all sizes and governmental actors. The coalition enables them to jointly find, develop and scale innovative solutions.
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