The first edition of the Off-Grid Government-Industry Dialogue (OGID) Day – celebrated in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, during October – resulted in the launch of a guidance note for governments. The note aims to provide recommendations for policymakers on how they can support the off-grid renewable-energy sector in bringing reliable access to clean energy to millions of households and businesses.
Organised by off-grid solar sector lobby group the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (Gogla) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), OGID Day highlighted the need for close collaboration between governments and companies to scale up the reach of off-grid energy solutions and accelerate progress towards universal energy access. The event was supported by the Africa-European Union Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme.
Participants at OGID Day included 80 representatives of African governments and practitioners from the off-grid energy industry, who discussed the vital role of off-grid energy solutions in delivering universal energy access across Africa.
Driven by technological advances and innovative business models, the off-grid solar sector has already improved energy access for at least 120-million people globally, according to Gogla.
Also highlighted during the event was the AfDB’s target to deliver 75-million new off-grid household connections by 2025 in the context of its New Deal on Energy for Africa strategic programme.
Key outcomes and highlights from OGID Day included predictability of the legal framework required, particularly in the areas of tax, customs duty and the openness of markets to the private sector to encourage investment under consistent operating conditions.
Partnership and dialogue between stakeholders, including government representatives, development partners and the off-grid industry, were also earmarked as being essential for expansion at scale.
The event further highlighted affordability as being the responsibility of everyone, with all stakeholders the energy supply chain required to focus on cheaper energy at higher tiers of access.
From the perspective of broader integration, electrification planning is portrayed as not only a top-down approach – where master electrification planning builds an entry point for off-grid electrification – but also a bottom-up approach – where consumer data about affordability and demand is key for integrated planning.
It further highlighted the importance of having national platforms for off-grid stakeholder engagement and setting up a rural energy fund, as well as leveraging the Green Climate Fund in support of the sector.
The event also identified a need for better evidence and data on the socioeconomic impact of off-grid solar energy access to boost the case for fiscal incentives that support solar products.
OGID Day also pointed to ongoing collaboration and cooperation between governments, industry and sector facilitators required if the adoption of internationally harmonised standards and the management of certification schemes in the off-grid energy industry are to be successful.
When performing integrated electrification planning, outcomes from the event pointed to governments having to consider factors such as actual energy consumption and the availability of mobile money.
AfDB renewable-energy director Ousseynou Nakoulima said off-grid solutions could induce a paradigm shift in access to clean energy in Africa.