Access to clean energy is a major driver of economic development in poor communities. Conversely, fuel poverty creates serious health and environmental problems, including indoor air pollution, respiratory disease, burns and even poisoning (from kerosene).
This project is finding innovative ways to stimulate local business capacity and financing mechanisms for affordable energy services to poorer communities in South Africa, with a focus on renewables and energy efficiency.
Key activities are market assessment for energy services in targeted poor communities; community participation and empowerment activities to assess the requirements for innovative financing to allow affordable access to appropriate energy services; and consultation with local (potential) entrepreneurs to assess financial and business development support needs.
Building the capacity of local business is essential, reducing the overheads associated with extended supply chains and thereby lowering costs and the 'price-to-customer'. Appropriate payback criteria for local businesses to service local customers introduces flexibility into payback and cash collection, allowing the adaptation of orthodox financial mechanisms to suit the local condition.
This bottom-up approach aims to expand the market for renewables and energy efficiency with positive demonstrations which can be replicated in other African countries.