The United Nations Foundation’s Energy Access Practitioner Network held a workshop “Towards Universal Energy Access: An Asian Perspective” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 16-18 March, 2013. The workshop brought together around 120 practitioners representing the private sector, civil society and policy makers at both international and national levels. It was supported by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), the Blue Moon Fund and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Site visits to Practitioner Network members PicoSol Cambodia’s Solar Campus and Kamworks’ Moonlight assembly line were part of the workshop.
The workshop opened with remarks from ADB’s country director in Cambodia highlighting the energy access issues in the country, followed by remarks from the World Bank on day two addressing a ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ panel with representation from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME) of Cambodia, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ADB; thus providing an opportunity for practitioners to engage with global policy makers in a substantive way.
The discussions at the workshop focused on innovative technologies to promote energy access including the role of standards in improving product quality; successful business models for micro/ mini-grids providing electricity to under-served areas; community engagement and market development to facilitate energy access projects and supply chains; and financing approaches focusing on a range of investors to help companies meet their working capital requirements.
The workshop also helped highlight the potential for scale-up in regions of Myanmar and Bangladesh and explore ways to capitalize financing tools and recruiting more members in this region to understand the market dynamics better and have a stronger South Asian strategy. As one of the panelists, Dr. Ahmmed from Green Housing and Energy Ltd, from Bangladesh said “The Bangladeshi government pushes private sector development. Private sector development is a key to mobilizing funds”.
While addressing a community capacity development question posed by the audience, speaker Iskandar Budisaroso Kuntoadji, Co-Founder of Ibeka, Indonesia commented, “Don’t underestimate community’s skills and capacity even though most of them have elementary level education.”
Further, discussions flowed into the need for appropriate gender indicators to determine the effects of energy technologies on the quality of life as well as working environment and health improvements. Quoting Agi S. Cakradirana, from Hivos Indonesia who primarily leads their project “Iconic Island” in the Island of Sumba; “Ensure that both genders are included in the entire project; both men and women have to communicate and agree where the plan will be located, where the products will be installed, can women reach the lights, and both men and women must join the trainings for products”.
The workshop also featured a highly participatory practitioner consultation around the Post-2015 global thematic consultation on energy for development and how energy should best be incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals under development. A report summarizing the key highlights of the discussion during the post-2015 panel was produced and has been shared with UNDP, the agency leading the consultation processes on the post-2015 global development agenda, as well as other stakeholders in the process. It is available on the network website at www.energyaccess.org
The workshop concluded with site visits to Practitioner Network members PicoSol Cambodia’s Solar Campus and Kamworks’ Moonlight assembly line. The visit helped in understanding their projects and products in rural Cambodia, and also provided an insight into the stringent Cambodian policies and banking regulations on providing loans to social enterprises and small-sized practitioners for access related projects.
The Energy Access Practitioner Network is a global platform that brings together more than a 1000 practitioners representing the private sector and civil society and working on both household and community- level electrification for productive purposes, incorporating specific market-based applications for health, agriculture, education, small business, communities and household solutions. The Network is a part of the broad umbrella of Sustainable Energy for All and works in support of its objective of achieving universal access to modern energy services by 2030.