Low investment hinders access to energy

The “Decentralized Energy: the Fast-Track to Universal Energy Access” launched on the side-lines of the African Development Bank (AfDB) 2016 annual general meetings in Lusaka, the Zambian capital said the opportunity costs of delaying access to energy could be remedied if multilateral development banks and infrastructure development agencies incorporated into their plans the full spectrum of energy options, including decentralized renewable energy systems.
The report, produced by Power for All, has pointed out that the need to achieve universal energy access could be addressed by emphasising in investing in decentralized renewable energy systems such as solar home systems and mini-grids which offer the best path.
“The out-dated emphasis on large-scale infrastructure initiatives is misguided considering 85 percent of the energy-poor live in rural areas where decentralize renewable energy can deliver on energy access goals, and climate, gender, education, health and rural development goals quicker, more cost-effectively and more reliably than the centralized grid can,” the report said.
It added that despite its clear prioritization as a global goal, little progress has been made in achieving universal access to date, noting that despite multilateral development banks’ mission of poverty alleviation decentralized renewable energy spend still only accounts for a tiny fraction of their total investment in energy access.
As of 2014, the African Development Bank invested just one percent of its energy access portfolio to decentralized renewable energy, with the remaining 99 per cent going towards large energy infrastructure projects, the report added.
The report has since outlined a new framework for achieving universal access before 2030 which also outline what multilateral development banks could and should take to expedite delivery of electricity to the 1.1 billion people living without access to modern energy services.
The report has identified three specific course of action for multilateral development banks which include utilize energy access opportunity costs assessments in funding solutions, catalysing dedicated energy access super funds to accelerate the decentralized renewable energy sector and mobilizing national decentralized renewable energy accelerators in countries suffering from energy poverty.
“Energy access is central to nearly every major development challenge the world faces today, and with decentralized renewables, it doesn’t have to wait,” said Power for All’s Kristina Skierka, director of the global campaign.
“With a reprioritization of funding, shifting of internal incentives, and adaptation of successful, fast-track funding schemes for decentralized renewables, the multilateral development banks can become the great accelerators of energy access and leaders in achieving power for all,” he added.
While the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for universal energy access is 2030, the AfDB’s “New Deal on Energy for Africa” is committed to achieving universal energy access across the continent by 2025.
The AfDB has announced major commitments on energy access, but its focus appears to remain on large infrastructure.



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