By Alexia Kelly, CEO of Electric Capital Management and co-chair of LEDS Global Partnership Finance Working Group.
Across Africa, India, and other regions of the Global South, there is an urgent need to mobilize funds into the distributed clean energy sector to provide access to clean, affordable, reliable energy for the 850 million people who live in energy poverty. Mobilizing these resources now is central to accelerating the decarbonization of the power sector, addressing and preparing for climate change impacts, and meeting UN Sustainable Development (SDGs) goals.
Leaders from across the globe met September 11-13th 2019 in CapeTown, South Africa, to discuss strategies to scale and accelerate investment into energy access and clean energy across Africa. It was an unprecedented gathering of faith leaders and faith-based investors, local African government representatives, capital managers, private companies, and non-profit and civil society leaders.
Nearly 100 people participated in an all day workshop exploring how to scale investment in energy access and developing new partnerships across groups that don’t often have the opportunity to engage. The workshop was convened by the Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) Global Partnership and the German Government’s International Climate Initiative Mobilising Private Investment project, GreenFaith, the Shine Campaign, and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI). During the workshop faith leaders met with energy access experts and other key stakeholders to explore ways that the faith sector can increase its engagement and support in this vital area and identify specific opportunities for collaboration. Key findings from the event include:
- We speak different languages: faith-based, governments and the private sector speak different languages, both literally and figuratively. Targeted and facilitated dialogue that allows for a constructive exchange of ideas and viewpoints is useful and necessary to building a more cohesive, effective and coordinated global movement.
- Faith organizations connect communities: Faith-based organizations that serve communities on the ground are trusted resources and can serve as “ambassadors” for governments and private companies and initiatives seeking to engage with and support deployment of clean energy solutions within communities.
- It is important to network, but more important to work the network. Participants shared a common frustration with the slow pace of change and the lack of support for scaling and implementing meaningful solutions on the ground. Getting folks together is valuable, actively working together through specific initiatives and concrete actions is more valuable.
- Training and capacity building within the faith community is needed. Participants called for increased training and capacity building of faith leaders on investment opportunities and interventions and expressed an interest in understanding and exploring case studies and successful examples on the ground.
- Justice and community engagement and grounding is key. Supporting and engaging community-led solutions that are culturally appropriate and community-led/owned is key. Civil society members in particular called for greater community engagement and participation in program design and intervention.
- Funding and Financing are both critical. In order to address energy poverty at scale and on meaningful timelines a combination of funding (large grants to support non-profit and civil society engagement) and financing (concessionary capital in the forms of debt and equity-e.g. capital that will accept a “below market” return–that can be used to scale local and emerging energy access businesses in developing countries) will be necessary and needs to be scaled up immediately.
There were a number of key proposals that came out of the workshop that merit further consideration and action, these will be explored in a subsequent article.
Electric Capital Management (ECM) accelerates the transition to the clean energy economy through capital management and climate finance advisory services for government, philanthropy, corporations and family offices. ECM designs and manages blended capital facilities that accelerate private capital flows into key low carbon market segments and provides specialized and high-impact climate finance advisory services.