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“Access to Energy” Policies and Funding in East Africa Background Paper for discussion with Key East African Sustainable Energy CSOs


AFREPREN Secretariat


This report was prepared as background material for a regional “Access Advocacy Workshop” meant to bring together key East African sustainable energy Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). The workshop was to take place over two days at Hill Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. Key areas to be covered on the workshop were to cover on energy challenges and development, participants’ experiences with energy to access projects, and successes and challenges on a practical and policy level among other issues.

The report is divided into five chapters: Chapter one presents an introduction on energy development in Africa. Energy is consumed by all sectors of the economy; the recent economic growth realized in East African countries has led to a concomitant rise in the quantity of energy consumed. Consequently, while the region is experiencing significant growth in energy demand, energy supply appears to have stagnated or dwindled. The chapter further notes that the security of energy supply especially electricity generation in East Africa seems to be threatened by climate change induced phenomenon, chief among them, drought.

Chapter two discusses key challenges facing the energy sector in East Africa. The study affirms that East African region is characterized by very low access to cleaner and modern energy services. Inadequate access to cleaner energy services is both a symptom and contributor to rural poverty. Access to modern energy options such as electricity can be used to increase incomes, enhance skills, improve health and education services – the principal pre-requisites for escaping from poverty. The chapter notes that the urban and peri-urban poor, face similar energy challenges in spite of close proximity to better developed energy service infrastructure.

Chapter three reviews a number of embryonic stories in sustainable energy development. A wide range of renewable energy technologies (RETs) have been introduced in East Africa. Although widespread success has not yet been realized in most renewables (with the exception of improve cookstoves that have been disseminated to millions of East African households), an increasing number of RETs have registered encouraging results they include: bio-energy, solar energy, wind energy for water pumping and small hydro-power technologies.

Chapter four describes possible priority, technical and policy options for expanding access to cleaner energy services for the poor in East Africa. Small-scale non-electrical renewables are ideal for meeting rural energy needs for agriculture, productive use and commercial enterprises. This is particularly so because they are made locally and operate on the basis of solar, thermal or animate power. Such systems can not only provide energy services that are affordable to the poor but can also be a source of employment and enterprise creation.

Chapter five explores potential key players CSOs can engage with, in expanding cleaner energy services for the poor. Ministries of Energy continue to be the dominant players on energy issues in East Africa in spite of deregulation and establishment of “independent” bodies as well as privatization of parts of the energy sector. Although Parliament and Ministries of Finance have the legal responsibilities for enacting laws and authorizing investment finance, respectively, they both rely on the Ministries of Energy for expertise and more importantly key energy data and information. Other important players associated with the Ministries of Energy include national utilities; national energy regulators and rural electrification agencies, all of which are “independent” in name but effectively follow Ministry of Energy directives.

The last chapter highlights on institutional entry points that can promote cleaner energy services for the poor. The study establishes that media is the single most important entry point for CSOs to use to promote sustainable energy options for expanding access among the rural poor of East Africa. Through the media, outreach to all the other key players can be assured. It would therefore make sense for East African CSOs interested in pro-poor sustainable energy options to consider targeting the media in the initial phases and then expand outreach to other key players in the future.

This paper is available on an exchange basis. If you find it to be useful, we encourage you to send us any relevant publications from your organization. To request for the full paper, please fill in the publications request form

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