Highlights of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020)

*This is a submission from a participant who attended the forum – Bob Aston (ALIN, Kenya.)

Over 3,000 delegates, including 60 ministers and other high-level participants, attended the sixth session of the African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020) that was held under the theme; 2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe on February 24-27, 2020.

Participants during one of the sessions.

In the ‘Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action on Sustainable Development’ in Africa that was adopted by 54 African countries, delegates, including ministers from across the continent responsible for all the 17 sustainable development goals that were under the spotlight at the forum, called on all African countries to urgently revisit their frameworks for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063; align their national development plans with the principles of the two agendas and set in motion programmes and projects to deliver.

Members of ‘Major Groups and other stakeholders in Africa’ recommended under SDG7 that national and sub-national governments invest in the transition towards 100% renewable energy, as well as climate-resilient infrastructure, and low emission development in cities and rural areas.

The final declaration also urged members states to take a position on gas energy as a transitional energy source for the continent as they prepare for the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

ACCESS members deliberating during the forum

Lack of disaggregated data and statistics hindering evidence-based monitoring and evaluation, tracking SDGs progress and resource allocation.

Most states lacked disaggregated data and statistics which affected the review methodology of the voluntary national review. There needs to be greater collaboration between national governments and CSOs in developing clear mechanisms for and investing in data generation, including remote sensing and other geospatial sources, big data and various observational networks and infrastructures. This will help to support evidence-based voluntary national reviews and national development frameworks, and in timely collection, dissemination and use of data and information to inform decision making.

Inclusive digital transformation can help meet SDGs and Agenda 2063 objectives.

The UN Capital Development Fund ( UNCDF) and the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) High-Level Policy Dialogue side event which looked at digital infrastructure and services, digital literacy, digital ID, digital financing, showed that inclusive digital transformation can help meet the SDGs and Agenda 2063 objectives.

However, high illiteracy levels in Africa, language barrier, low level of digital literacy and lack of adequate infrastructure which reduces devices interoperability has limited the continent’s digital transformation. An opportunity is available for CSOs particularly those working On SDG7 to advocate for the inclusion of energy in the Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard (IDEC) which has only been piloted in 8 countries and does not include energy among the thematic areas. The IDEC is a strategic performance tool that identifies the key market constraints hindering the development of an inclusive digital economy while helping advance the right priorities with public and private sector stakeholders for each country.

ACCESS members during the event

Need for sustained awareness creation and education on SDG7

Although the ARFSD looked at all the 17 SDGs, the importance of SDG7 as an enabler to most of the SDGs was subsequently missing or not reinforced. There is need for CSOs working on SDG7 to enhance their advocacy to promote decentralized renewable energy and clean cooking technologies.

Here is a view from another member who attended the forum – Thabit Mikidadi from Tanzania Gender and Energy Network (TANGSEN). “Coming from a gender organization in the energy sector, my particular focus was on an engendered perspective of SDG 7. Access to clean energy is still viewed as a separate endeavour and not as a catalyst to the achievement of many other SDGs. Numbers are still given priority, rather than impact – accelerated energy access versus reduction of poverty and opening up of opportunities. Women bear the biggest brunt of the energy deficit and this affects their socio-economic livelihoods thus widening the equality gap. This needs to change.”

*Thanks to the support of Hivos, other ACCESS members who attended the forum included: Maimuna Kabatesi (Hivos), Jacqueline Kimeu (ACCESS), Mamadou Barry ( Action Solidaire International ), Marvin Tumusiime (ENventure), Tendai Moyo, Wellington Madumira (ZERO).

Prioritizing Electrification and Clean Cooking in Kenya: Energy Act 2019

The stakeholders comprised of national government officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, sub-national government leaders, CSOs in energy and nexus CSOs.

In summary

  • Kenya’s Energy Act of 2019 has the potential to shift the paradigm only if all of the sector players form partnerships geared towards financing, implementation and proper legislative processes that factor in the needs of the energy-poor.
  • Partnerships should be fostered between CSOs and the government to advance and support inclusive and integrated energy plans at the national and county level.
  • Countrywide survey and a resource assessment of all renewable energy resources will set the stage for extensive exploitation of renewable resources to meet Kenyas’ energy needs and requirements.

In partnership with SEforALL’s People-Centered Accelerator, the ACCESS Coalition held a workshop in November 18-19, 2019 in Nairobi Kenya. The workshop brought together stakeholders involved in the implementation of an inclusive, integrated vision of energy access – spanning grid and off-grid electricity and clean cooking.

Kenya’s SEforALL action agenda outlines how the country will achieve its ambitious goals of universal access to electricity by 2022 and clean cooking fuels and technologies by 2030. ACCESS members, partners and other CSOs have continued to support and work in partnership with governments by providing valuable data, advising on policy formulation and demonstrating solutions to secure last-mile energy solutions including how to overcome investment barriers in inclusive energy service planning and delivery. Despite this collaborative approach, Kenya – as is the case of many other African countries – is not on track to achieve its SEforALL/SDG 7 targets.

Participants mapping Kenyan CSO initiatives at the county level

The stakeholders comprised of national government officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, sub-national government leaders, CSOs in energy and nexus CSOs. They interrogated the recently enacted Energy Act of 2019 and its implications on energy provision in Kenya. Specifically looking at how county-level governments in Kenya can be supported to develop their energy plans using an inclusive, Integrated Energy Pathway (IEP) approach, (addressing both grid and off-grid electricity as well as clean cooking) to accelerate the achievement of SEforALL/ SDG7 targets.

Speaking during the event, Jacqueline Kimeu, the ACCESS coordinator noted, “The Energy Act of 2019 consolidated the entire laws relating to energy sector development in Kenya, and provides a framework for the devolution of the provision of energy services to the grassroots level.”

During the intensive two-day sessions the participants probed the existing capacity-building efforts at the national and county level on energy access and integration into cross-sectoral development planning.  Besides outlining the coordination and resources needed, the workshop pointed out potential opportunities within county energy plans and identify areas in which CSOs could collaborate to advance SDG 7. 

Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Energy, Kenya, making his remarks during the workshop

The government leaders affirmed their commitment to collaborating with the CSOs to advance energy access in Kenya. As noted by Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Energy in Kenya, the country has the right instruments in place. Partnerships with government and CSOs needs to take place within the provision of the frameworks provided. He reiterated “The law provides for modalities of engagement. Opportunities to engage must be created within this framework. CSOs need to identify these opportunities and keep abreast on what is happening at the national level.”

Reaching the underserved

In Kenya, low-income households, located off the grid, in rural areas, spend more than 20% of their total income on energy. It is paramount that the government invests in affordable energy solutions that reach everyone. Caroline McGregor from SEforALL affirmed this commitment during her presentation, “Achieving SDG7 and ‘leaving no one behind’ solutions must be designed to respond to the needs of the poorest and most marginalized in society –those who would get left behind when business is conducted as usual.” 

The workshop in progress

The Act also empowers county governments to build local renewable energy centers in collaboration with the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) REREC. This creates the platform for technology transfer and technology development assuring counties of energy independence in the long run. Stakeholders were encouraged to work with these energy centres to offer context-specific programs.

The SEforALL People-Centered Accelerator’s Work stream 1 is focused on reaching the hardest to reach; the so-called ‘last mile’. The partner project developed under WS1 for 2019-2020 is “National Strategies”, meaning support for policy development and implementation at the country level, where the access deficits are greatest. ACCESS is the lead implementing partner.

You can download the Energy Act Analysis report here.

Women in Energy – Rosemary Nakasanga is Changing the Face of Energy Access in Central Uganda

Submitted by Marvin Tumusiime

Rosemary Nakasanga is the founder and director of The Women Support Initiative (TWOSI), based in Lwengo district (central Uganda). Like most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda grapples with the challenge of electricity access – 85% of Ugandans lack access to electricity and 98% of the population lacks access to modern facilities for cooking.

Rosemary (second from right) at ENVenture’s boot camp

Rosemary’s career as a social worker began at the Medical Missionaries of Mary, a religious institute that provides community-based healthcare. One of the programs ran by the institute was building mud stoves and sensitizing community members on the hazards that come with using firewood as a source of fuel. Rosemary enjoyed community outreach so much that she took a step further and set up TWOSI in her hometown of Michunda. In Michunda, 56% of the local population lives without electricity and the main source of energy for lighting is kerosene lamps. “Growing up, we used kerosene as a lighting source and the smoke was a constant menace in our home. It is a cheap alternative, and we were unaware of the dangers that it poses,” recalls Rosemary.

The fumes produced by firewood often takes a toll on the health of the community members – especially women – who are often the primary household energy managers. Now that Rose understands what the community is up against, TWOSI also constructs mud stoves for these elderly women who still use the three-stone method of cooking. She encourages them to use alternative sources of cooking such as fuel briquettes.  Giving these women access to energy, through renewable energy, means preserving their human capital and consequently improving the quality of their lives. Rose contends that spreading awareness on the benefits of energy efficiency is key to promoting behavior change.

Currently, TWOSI is sustained through the sale of quality solar lanterns to community members. “The community knows us for dealing in solar lanterns and they trust in the quality that we provide,” adds Rosemary. Rosemary’s future plan for TWOSI is to scale her energy business and serve more community members with quality solar products. This is in line with the “Light Lwengo” initiative unveiled by the Ugandan government to shift the district from poor to middle-income status by 2030. The extra income will be channeled to TWOSI’s advocacy and counseling efforts for girls and women affected by HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of ENVenture, TWOSI is also part of a group of over 80 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that have formed an exchange platform to share knowledge, best practices, and foster collaboration. Rosemary has also participated in ENVenture’s boot camp which provides a platform for new CBOs to interact with manufacturers of their products and equips them with the necessary skills to run successful energy enterprises.

Rosemary (extreme left) with community members

Rose believes that small changes can make a big difference, “I encourage other CBOs to incorporate energy programs or at the very least environmental interventions. Start by planting trees in your communities and sensitizing people on the benefits that come with it such as combating the effects of climate change.”

ENVenture is a non-governmental organization based in Uganda that empowers rural cooperatives to set up their own clean energy distribution businesses in the last mile by partnering with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs). ENVenture seeks to address is three challenges: One, over 85% of Uganda’s population lacks access to energy, secondly, last-mile distribution for clean energy at the household level remains a challenge, and thirdly there is no support for locally-based enterprises in the last mile. To address these challenges, they have a tailored toolkit that comprises of a clean energy loan, business mentors, capacity building, and mobile technology to the CBOs that they support.

You can read more about their work on www.enventureenterprises.org

ACCESS at the SEforALL Charrettes in Amsterdam

ACCESS participated in the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Charrettes in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from 18 – 20 June, 2019. The Charretes were convened to challenge the status quo and generate disruptive ideas and solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7). According to the The Energy Progress Report 2019, 840 million people around the world still do not have access to electricity and 2.9 billion lack clean cooking solutions.

Using the design-thinking approach, participants were prompted to think out-of-the-box, challenge assumptions and come up with innovative solutions to accelerate achievement of SDG7. You can read a recap of the Charrettes here.

The ACCESS coalition also presented on the People Centered Accelerator (PCA) ‘Last Mile’ work stream, during the meeting held on 20th June 2019. Starting with Kenya, the ACCESS Coalition is partnering with Oxfam, World Resources Institute (WRI), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and Practical Action on a series of events aimed at advancing inclusive and integrated approaches to energy planning through advocacy by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues.

The events in Kenya will serve as the pilot project and a second phase will be planned for Ghana and Zambia. These events will culminate into the SEforALL Forum to be held in Kigali from 26 – 28 May 2020. We will keep you updated in subsequent posts.

Exchange visit in Ghana on collaborative advocacy for sustainable energy solutions

By Sanou Dieudonné, Program Officer at OCADES Caritas Dédougou, Burkina Faso and member of the expert group of CNPDER BF

As partners of the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP), I had the opportunity to participate in the V4CP exchange visit in Ghana, in November 2018. This learning visit provided a unique opportunity to share experiences from the different V4CP countries (Ghana, Kenya, Honduras and Burkina Faso), and to learn what sector players in Ghana are doing, how they are doing it, and the successes recorded. Continue reading “Exchange visit in Ghana on collaborative advocacy for sustainable energy solutions”