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Monica_55905 Dec 02

Energy&HER: African Mini Grids - Clean Mini-Grids: Productive Use and Gender Highlights

Energy&HER: African Mini Grids -  Clean Mini-Grids: Productive Use and Gender Highlights image
Part of the Energy&HER series at aef 2020, African Mini-grids hosted a discussion on how critical is to build relationships with communities, and how does this impact a project, as well as what are the drivers for a successful project.
In June, 2019 the World Bank along with several partners announced a commitment of $1.3 billion into the mini-grid space in sub-Saharan Africa. Unsurprisingly, this has contributed to a surge of interest in the market, but as numerous real-life examples show, successfully connecting rural communities to mini-grids requires more than just money.

Much of the current renewables transition does require an energy-first roadmap to prove viability, before the social issues of access and living quality can be fulfilled. However, when dealing with rural communities on such a personal level, it’s the social consequences that need to be considered first in this case – from gender equality, to community collaboration, to ultimate reasons for these populations’ demand.

The Clinton Development Initiative has harnessed this approach by combining 90,000 farmers across three countries as part of a combined production effort. Planning began by looking at the market first, then the finance required, then getting this group to productive capacity, before introducing mini-grids that could elevate this now thriving operation. Bill Rustrick, CEO, Clinton Development Initiative, said: “We use the energy to start with for improved communication, to understand about market price, and then improving the packhouse capacity, the ability to cool, ventilate, create traceability systems… and this is when productive use of energy becomes very exciting.”

Additional application examples that put social empowerment, diversity and the needs of those communities first include significant projects in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Rwanda courtesy of Practical Action, and a drive for stronger partnerships to realise sustainability goals virtue of SEforAll. As such, mini-grids have the potential to become a true social enricher for people most in need, as long as those initiating the projects take a community-driven approach
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