On 27 April 2017 in Maseru – Lesotho, IRENA and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) jointly organised the kick-off meeting for the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility. The meeting was hosted by the Government of Lesotho and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Lesotho. Forty-five representatives from the private sector, business incubation centres, academic institutions, development partners and renewable energy associations in the region came together to discuss the most pertinent issues to be addressed in promoting small and medium sized entrepreneurs in the region and the modalities of implementing the RE Entrepreneurship Support Facility in SADC.
The SADC region experiences energy poverty manifesting through persistent power crisis and a lack of access to clean and affordable energy by the majority of its citizens. Despite the rapidly falling costs and increasing robustness of the technology as well as undisputed competitiveness in application in certain areas, renewable energy systems have not penetrated the SADC market with the necessary pace. The latent potential of private sector in addressing the energy poverty is still to be developed. However, sustainable energy entrepreneurs face numerous challenges that inhibit their potential ability to contribute to addressing the energy poverty. Some of the barriers faced by entrepreneurs include:
- Lack of enhanced business skills to manage the dynamic nature of sustainable energy
- Lack of funding, especially enterprise finance
- Lack of awareness of business opportunities in the niche markets
- Lack of institutional support that includes lack of favourable physical, legal, regulatory, and political environment enabling entrepreneurs and industry when adopting market driven forces to deliver solutions – “the enabling ecosystem.
In order to address some of the barriers and challenges experienced by the private sector, SACREEE and IRENA are partnering to establish the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility. The objective of the Facility is to enhance and strengthen the capacity of small to medium entrepreneurs in assessing the business potentials of sustainable energy, develop viable business plans and loan requests, and managing and maintaining their businesses successfully. Furthermore, the Facility will also aim to increase the confidence of financial institutions in sustainable energy systems and create linkages between the entrepreneurs and financial institutions. The project will be implemented in the fifteen member countries of the SADC region and builds on the Memorandum of Understanding between IRENA and the SACREEE, signed in January 2017.
SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) — Kudakwashe Ndhlukula, Executive Director, SACREEE
NEPAD Gender and Renewable Energy Programme — Mata Coulibaly, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
IRENA’s Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa — Tijana Radojicic, Associate Programme Officer for Sub-Saharan Africa, IRENA
Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility in ECOWAS — Bachir Ismael Ouedraogo, Coordinator of the ECOWAS RE Entrepreneurship Support Facility, 2iE
Proposed Structure of the RE Entrepreneurship Support Facility in SADC — Kudakwashe Ndhlukula, Executive Director, SACREEE
For more information, please contact: Tijana Radojicic (TRadojicic@irena.org)