The Momentum for Change Initiative of the UNFCCC today announced that the Swedish-funded Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia is among 15 winners of this year’s UN Global Climate Action Awards, which recognise highly innovative, scalable and replicable initiatives tackling climate change.
Using an innovative results-based financing and risk-sharing approach called Social Impact Procurement, the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia (BGFZ) has in two years connected nearly 800,000 people to clean and affordable off grid energy services.
Earlier this year, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) announced the launch of a new Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, which will aim to replicate the BGFZ approach in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mozambique, and launch an additional funding round in Zambia. The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa will be managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) as Facility Manager, and implemented by REEEP. It aims to reach at least five million beneficiaries by 2025.
“This year, we had over 670 incredible applications for the UN Global Climate Action Award,” said Niclas Svenningsen, Manager of the UN Climate Change Global Climate Action Programme.
“It is our pleasure to award Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia. Their clean and affordable alternative to grid electricity serves as a beacon, guiding us towards a more sustainable future for all.
“With the ambitious goal of delivering quick-to-deploy energy access to at least five million people over the next six years, this project provides a shining example of a scalable and replicable climate solution,” Svenningsen concluded.
Speaking at the opening of a series of stakeholder workshops for the new Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, part of the design phase of a new funding round, the Zambian Minister of Energy, Mathew Nkhuwa MP, expressed his support for the expansion:
“The first round of the Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia has produced promising results. [It has] brought down the risks and lowered the barriers to entry for new market participants and innovative business models. We urgently need a long-term solution to our energy needs, and this can only be achieved through working together. [This is why] initiatives like the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa need to be supported.”
Mr. Stephen Mwansa of the Zambian Office of the Vice President commented: “We are happy that as Zambians, we have become trailblazers in Smart energy solutions, and that the success of the Beyond the Grid Fund operations in Zambia has led to other countries deciding to apply the same model under the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa. We look forward to exchanging ideas and opportunities with Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mozambique as they launch their own activities under the Beyond the Grid Fund concept.”
BGFZ was launched in 2016 by the Swedish Embassy in Lusaka with the aim to radically expand access to clean off-grid energy, such as home solar systems and mini-grids, in rural and peri-urban Zambia. BGFZ is co-designed by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), and Sida. The programme has to date awarded results-based contracts to four companies with pro-poor business models deemed ready for rapid scale-up. In addition, the fund works closely with the government, the renewable energy industry and other development partners in its efforts to build a thriving market for off-grid energy services.
In a country where some 70% of the population does not have access to modern energy, BGFZ has kick-started a market for affordable, reliable and clean energy services provided by the private sector. Though the original goal was to connect one million people by 2021, the four contracted companies are on track to reach 1.6 million by the programme end date.
“The BGFZ shows how an early vision of scale, and an openness to new ways of partnering, can drive innovation, demonstrate workable solutions to breaking with the business as usual scenario and have real impact on achieving the SDGs. For Sida, the success of the fund is further proof that we need to reconsider our traditional role as primarily a financier of development and take a more active role in co-creating development solutions,” says Carin Jämtin, Director General, Sida.
The BGFZ approach rests on three pillars: an innovative financing mechanism built on risk-sharing and transparent criteria, close collaboration with, the renewable energy industry, government and investors through the newly established Off-Grid Energy Task Force and unique market intelligence generation through the custom-built data hub EDISON. The programme’s progress can be followed live via EDISON’s public dashboard, accessible at edison.bgfz.org.
Andreas Zahner, Programme Director at REEEP, said: “We are honoured by this Global Climate Action award, which comes at a perfect time as we start working to replicate the success of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia in three more countries. We look forward to sharing lessons learned and future plans for the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa at COP25 in Chile, together with our partners from Sida and NEFCO.”
The UN Global Climate Action Awards will be formally presented during an award ceremony to be held during the second week of the 25th UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Santiago de Chile in December. The Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia and other winners will also feature in a series of other UNFCCC-organised events that week.
For any press inquiries, please contact Maria van Veldhuizen, Senior Communications and Outreach Manager at REEEP: maria.veldhuizen [at] reeep.org; +43 1 26026 3643.
If you represent an off-grid energy company and would like to be part of the new Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, please get in touch for more information.