Greater finance needed to close electricity access and clean cooking gap

A new Energising Finance Report Series released by the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative and partners has alerted that the current flow of finance for energy access and clean cooking will not achieve global goals for delivering universal access by 2030.

Estimates show an annual investment of US $45-billion is needed to meet universal electrification. But the latest data shows that finance commitments for electricity in 20 “high-impact” countries, which represent 80% of those without electricity access, is less than half that number − averaging just $19,4-billion a year. The largest bilateral financier across high-impact countries was China, which was where 21% of finance originated from.

The research, the first-of-its-kind, was announced at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York in September 2017. It analysed finance flows for electricity and clean cooking access in 20 countries across Africa and Asia with significant access gaps, and how finance strategies could be scaled and refined to reach more people, more affordably, with sustainable energy.
The UN launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative in 2011 with the aim of making universal access to sustainable energy a reality by 2030. The African Development Bank (AfDB) hosts the SE4All Africa Hub.

According to the reports, finance tracked for clean cooking revealed a much greater challenge across the 20 countries, with the largest clean cooking access gaps representing 84% of the global population without access. Annual finance committed averaged just US $32-million, compared to the estimated annual investment need of at least US $4,4-billion.

The Energising Finance research, done in partnership with the World Bank Group, the Climate Policy Initiative, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Practical Action Consulting and E3 Analytics, delivers a strong wake-up call to the levels of finance flowing to close energy access gaps. It also creates a roadmap of opportunities which, if finance is more strategically directed, will help towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7, and provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, says that overall investments are substantially lower than needed to achieve the energy access goals. Targeted, refined strategies are needed to increase investment in integrated electricity solutions. At the same time we need to open-up a frank new dialogue around bold market-based strategies that can deploy clean fuels and technologies for cooking at the speed and scale needed. The lack of financing for clean cooking solutions is shocking. Fixing financial flows to ensure everyone has access to clean, affordable reliable energy is essential in meeting our commitment to leave no one behind, she says.

(AfDB), described the reports as an important wake-up call that the world is not on track to achieve electricity for all.

Amadou Hott, AfDB’s vice-president for power, energy, climate and green growth bank, says although the African Development Bank has set the ambitious goal of achieving universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025, this will not be done by AfDB alone. To achieve this, transformative partnerships between the public and private sector are needed to improve energy access planning and increase investment in the preparation and implementation of energy access projects, including innovative access solutions such as off-grid.

The reports also found that only a tiny amount of financing commitments: 1% ($200-million) a year went to more-affordable decentralised energy solutions, such as household solar systems, which hold great promise to deliver basic electricity more quickly and more affordably to vast and hard-to-reach rural populations.

Also, roughly 60% of tracked finance commitments for electricity – approximately $11,6-billion a year – went to three countries in Asia, India, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Nigeria and Ethiopia were the next largest recipients ($2,4-billion a year combined). Finance commitments in the other 15 high impact countries (eleven of these in Africa) stood at below $1-billion a year. The Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) and the World Bank Group tracked finance for electricity and clean cooking access in high-impact countries.

Country level analysis was conducted of the financing landscape in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya at the national level. Enterprise surveys were also conducted in these countries plus Myanmar and Nigeria to understand the challenges and opportunities facing businesses providing decentralized energy solutions.

Bangladesh and Kenya showed gains in urban and rural areas with integrated strategies that include centralized electric grid infrastructure as well as mini-grid and off-grid energy systems such as solar home systems − which are already powering millions of rural households, helped by supportive policies that spur diverse types of public and private finance for energy access projects and companies.

Practical Action Consulting, along with E3 Analytics, undertook the deep-dive country level analysis. According to Paul Smith Lomas, the CEO of Practical Action, the amount of finance directed towards decentralisaed energy technologies, like mini-grids and stand-alone systems, remains tiny in comparison to investments in national grids. This is despite decentralised energy technologies being the most economical solution to meet the needs of the majority of unconnected people by 2030. To make these technologies more available to communities, and to achieve universal access, national policies must also better understand and support local businesses, banking and markets.

The reports also looked at the amount and type of international and domestic finance flowing to these countries for energy access; specific kinds of projects being financed, whether large-scale grid projects or more-affordable decentralized energy services; how quickly development finance is being disbursed; and the financing needs and challenges of energy enterprises providing decentralized electricity and clean cooking services in five high-impact countries.

Contact Peter Sturmheit, African Development Bank, Tel 012 003-6900,


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