• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Investment in renewables demand radical collaboration, replacing fragmentation with coordination – Harford

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Simon Harford, CEO of GEAPP, seeks to reduce four billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, improve the lives of one billion people with new and improved clean energy access, and sustain 150 million jobs and livelihoods. In this interview with ABUBAKAR IBRAHIM, he spoke about working to unlock renewable energy access in developing and emerging economies. Excerpts:

Considering climate change and the urgency for the adoption of clean energy, what is the mission and vision of GEAPP as an organisation?

The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) is a collective movement for change, working to unlock renewable energy access in emerging economies. Energy poverty persists for 3.6 billion people globally.

Developing and emerging economies continuing to grow via fossil fuels could produce 75 percent of global carbon emissions by 2050. Renewables are now producing the cheapest energy in history. But not for everyone. Clean energy’s share of total energy consumption in Africa and Asia is less than 10 percent.

The Alliance was launched by the IKEA Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bezos Earth Fund in 2021, bringing together development players with philanthropy, private sector organisations, governments, energy sector experts, communities and many others. Our mission is to build a green energy movement to power people while protecting the planet.

Working with its partners, GEAPP seeks to reduce four billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, improve the lives of One billion people with new and improved clean energy access, and sustain 150 million jobs and livelihoods.

Give us an overview of GEAPP’s activities in Nigeria so far?

GEAPP’s activities in Nigeria can be split into three categories: Building an enabling environment for the energy transition – an example here is the establishment of the Energy Transition Office in the Presidency to work towards common goals.

Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship – an example here is the Demand Aggregation for Renewable Technology (DART) programme in partnership with All On. Distributed renewable energy (DRE) developers in sub-Saharan Africa pay more than thrice the global average price for lithium-ion batteries and more than 20 percent extra for solar panels because they are sub-scale.

DART is an aggregated procurement platform, which takes a small developer’s procurement needs and aggregates them to bring effects of scale with better pricing, better terms and better lead times. GEAPP committed the first $10m to the project, and savings of over 20 percent on solar equipment for local developers have already resulted.

Unlocking local currency investment – In June 2023, GEAPP in collaboration with Nigerian investment firm Chapel Hill Denham (CHD), established a new local currency subordinated debt vehicle: the Energy Transition & Access Facility for Africa (ETAFA), which aims to deploy $50m into Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) projects across Nigeria

All of this helps work towards GEAPP’s broader impact goal to enable 4 million new mini-grid connections, reaching 20 million people, while creating 50,000 jobs in Nigeria.

With the recent induction of the former vice president of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, as Global Advisor, how do you intend to leverage his influence to promote the widespread adoption of clean energy in Nigeria?

Yemi Osinbajo has a deep and expansive understanding of the energy environment in Nigeria, with a vision and approach that align strongly with GEAPP’s mission and objectives. As Vice President he played a crucial role in the formulation and moulding of policies and initiatives. He is vocal about youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and the overall welfare of Nigerians.

For many years he has been a respected role model of public service at the forefront of policy formulation and implementation on crucial developmental issues relating to national planning, climate change, enabling the business and investment environment, governance, and social investment.

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His professional expertise and leadership, alongside his broad global network and relationships, will be a valuable catalyst in GEAPP’s mission for affordable access to clean energy and a just transition for all.

What is the commitment of GEAPP to bridging lack of access to electricity in Nigeria, DRC Congo and Ethiopia?

The population figures in the countries you describe make these countries an absolute focus for the work of GEAPP. Making a positive change in these countries will have an enormous impact on the ability of the whole world to meet its climate goals and accelerate energy access.

Nigeria, DRC and Ethiopia are three of GEAPP’s seven focus countries, prioritised based on the scale of potential impact and existing government commitments to clean energy.

How do developing and emerging countries boost investments in renewable energy. How can they pick up the pace?

It demands a radical sort of collaboration; replacing fragmentation with coordination. That was the founding spirit of GEAPP – to create a model that is targeted, catalytic, active and independent. It’s an innovative model of philanthropy powering a green energy movement designed to inspire an irresistible wave of action at global, regional, national, local and individual levels.

How does GEAPP intend to influence policies to favour the adoption of clean energy sources in Nigeria?

GEAPP works in partnership with governments to support and accelerate their own energy access policies and we hope to continue our partnership with the Nigerian government to create a conducive environment for the adoption and transition of clean energy.

How do you plan to ensure that GEAPP remains at the forefront of technological advancements and stays adaptable to the evolving needs of the clean energy sector in Nigeria?

Two things – evidence and alliance. The first, because the problems GEAPP seeks to solve are complex and we understand we will not always get everything right the first time. The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning system we have developed allow us to evaluate the impact of, learn from and adjust our interventions quickly.

The second, Alliancing, is our ability to work with a very broad range of organisations, each bringing different expertise at the forefront of global thought – be that in finance, technical assistance, philanthropy or policy.

A great example of where all these strands will come together will be the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, hosted by President William Ruto in Nairobi, Kenya at the start of September.

This 3-day summit marks a critical staging post for African countries and the world to achieve its climate goals bringing together world leaders, experts, policymakers and the private sector to unite in action ahead of COP28 in November. Joseph Ng’ang’a, Vice President of Africa at GEAPP, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Summit to help steer its agenda and impact.