Our response to “Dangerously insufficient: COVID-19 Energy Access Relief Fund”

A recent Sun-Connect opinion piece criticizes the emerging COVID-19 Energy Access Relief “because the special needs of local SMEs are not addressed”. As we represent a diverse set of off-grid solar companies, small and large, local and international, we at GOGLA value a robust and passionate exchange of arguments. In the end, it demonstrates how much we all care about this industry whose success is vital in delivering clean and sustainable energy to those without.

Safeguarding the success of the off-grid solar industry is now more important than ever. To keep energy access for all within reach. And to keep the lights on for 470 million people around the globe using off-grid solar solutions. It is in this spirit that leading investors have come together to set up the COVID-19 Energy Access Relief Fund.

The relief fund itself is, to our knowledge, so far one of the very few concrete offers in the making for the industry. Its progress towards launching has been promising, but it doesn’t exist yet, nor is it fully funded. The fund partners are working hard to get the fund operational as quickly as possible, responding to the industry’s need for emergency liquidity.

Every off-grid company – regardless of geography – can register their interest in the fund. The eligibility criteria are currently being developed with the aim of making them as inclusive as possible. This low threshold will make sure that money can flow quickly and with the least amount of bureaucracy. The criteria will ensure the money is used to address the direct consequences of the pandemic, and not to ease pre-crisis problems. After all, we are asking investors and donors to put their money into this fund because of the COVID-crisis – money that currently is in high demand and should be spent wisely. The relief fund has already received inquiries over 200 energy access companies interested in receiving emergency loans – the website was launched only last week.

As we continue to coordinate the industry’s response to the crisis, we welcome data helping us clearly communicate the sector’s needs to donors and investors. We will thus look with interest at the Sun-Connect survey results on what local SMEs need. Help to attract more financing for relief funding is welcome too. Only if we work together as a sector, we will be able to deal with the fallout from this unprecedented crisis.