Innovative solutions are needed to reach communities for which connection to the grid remains a long way off. These communities are often only poorly connected to road, ICT or financial infrastructure; something that inhibits their ability to partake in commercial value chains. Products that could improve their access to energy - as well as healthcare, information and more generally, improved living conditions - do not reach them, or are only available at prohibitive costs.
This taskforce will focus on overcoming the issues associated with the ‘last mile distribution’ challenge - the problem related to supplying goods or services from a central hub to harder-to-reach areas. It will showcase solutions and mechanisms to improve access to energy in terms of technologies, payment mechanisms, distribution channels and financial support, and examine related issues such as recycling and the maintenance of distributed products.
How we make a difference
Introduced in 2010, the Total Access to Energy program was designed to test and develop innovative and profitable business models on a large scale, with a view to finding long-term solutions to the problem of energy access for low-income communities. The distribution of affordable and reliable off-grid solar solutions is the first major achievement of the program.
OFID teamed up with the Shell Foundation to support the rollout of the social enterprise d.light in Kenya and Tanzania, two of the most severely energy-poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In both countries, kerosene is the most widely used source of lighting, costing up to US$7.50 per month and placing considerable strain on households with a typical per capita income of just US$2 per day. The aim of the twelve-month project was ‘to empower formerly energy-poor consumers to live a life of new freedoms and opportunity’. This involved setting up a revolving capital pool that made low-interest loans available to rural distributors of solar-powered lanterns. The loans boosted working capital and enabled rural distributors to buy and stock large supplies of the lanterns. By the end of the period, almost 85,000 units had been sold, empowering some 424,000 people; more than triple the original target.