Why Africa’s Energy Sector Needs Transparency: A Q&A with the Head of KawiSafi Ventures, Acumen’s for-Profit Energy Fund
While investing patient capital into for-profit firms has been Acumen’s MO for decades now, the organization itself has remained a non-profit. But in April, Acumen announced that it was doing something it hadn't done before: creating a commercial investment fund. Called KawiSafi Ventures, the for-profit fund has lined up $70 million to boost clean energy firms – and therefore clean energy access – in East Africa. Managing Director Amar Inamdar explores the fund's focus on scalable businesses, and why debt and equity need to start playing nice with one another in the sector.
In partnership with Energy 4 Impact, Wood Mackenzie recently released "Strategic Investments in Off-grid Energy Access: Scaling the Utility of the Future at the Last Mile." Among its many headlines, the research found that total annual investment in the off-grid energy access sector surpassed $500 million in 2018 for the first time. To find out what's fueling it and what it means for the millions living off the power grid, we spoke with Benjamin Attia, a research analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and an African solar PV markets expert.
In March 2018, Dymphna van der Lans was appointed CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an industry group representing businesses, investors and NGOs. The organization has since rebranded as the Clean Cooking Alliance and has set a new goal: to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030. In this video interview with NextBillion editors, we ask van der Lans about how the alliance is helping to reach those goals – as well as the criticism it has faced about the sector's social impact.
In April, the mini-grid industry got its first-ever trade association, as the Africa Mini-grid Developers Association (AMDA) launched with chapters in Kenya and Tanzania – and ambitious goals for expansion across the continent. Though AMDA's membership currently includes about a dozen companies providing 11,000 connections, it aspires to represent 90 percent of the mini-grid sector by the end of 2021. In a Q&A with Scott Anderson, AMDA co-founder Jessica Stephens discusses its plans to transform the mini-grid industry from a feel-good alternative to a power player in the energy sector.