Strathmore Energy Research Centre (SERC) held a breakfast session on Financing the Transition for Sustainable Energy for corporate executives on 11th September 2019 at the University. The breakfast session brought together professionals financing renewable energy projects from the banking, investment and development sector. This is in line with SERC’s plan to launch a series of executive courses aimed at senior level management. The objective of the session was to gather input on the training curriculum and discuss the areas that need to be incorporated within the existing Sustainable Energy for Executives with a focus on financiers course content.
The breakfast session was inaugurated by Prof Izael Da Silva who is the DVC for Research and Innovation at the University. He rightly echoed the need for financiers to play a role financing the Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) sector seeing that the university was a beneficiary of the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) loan through Sunref. As a result, Strathmore University installed a 600kW solar PV system which meets the university’s internal energy demand, and during the weekend when the students are off campus the excess is imported to the grid through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The workshop proceeded with an introduction to Energy Access by Ms. Sarah Odera, Director of the Strathmore Energy Research Centre. “Energy Access efforts are shifting from centralized systems to decentralized systems with the focus being on underserved regions of the country”, Ms. Odera emphasized as she pointed out the need for financiers to invest in DRE technologies to accelerate the development process.
“The main challenge in funding DRE is the mismatch of priorities between the funders and the DRE companies” according to African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Principal Regional Officer, Dr. Somorin Olufunso. As a result, AfDB trains both DRE companies and local commercial banks how to come up with winning proposals and how what to look at when funding DREs respectively. He further pointed out that they are willing to partner with the University to enhance the standard learning system within the DRE sector.
The other speakers in the workshop who included Mr. Maarteen Kleijn, Senior Officer- focusing on off-grid Solar in Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and Mr. Humphrey Wireko, who is a senior associate at Cross Boundary both presented on the different challenges they face in the course of their operations and the different financial models they have adopted so as to fund the DRE sector sustainably. All the stakeholders agreed that the DRE sector poses a lucrative opportunity for investment and that a structured learning system would be beneficial in enabling the decision makers to make timely investment and financing decisions.
The stakeholders then gave tangible feedback on the course outline which was presented by Mr. Geoffrey Ronoh, who is a research fellow in the University. The course would touch on areas such as knowledge in conducting technical due diligence in energy projects, them nuances specific in the energy sector to obtain an understanding of consumer profiles, distributed renewable energy companies and the regulatory environment. Some of the key feedback included the need to ensure that the course is practical and engaging so as to address the day to day challenges that the financiers face.
The workshop was successfully concluded with an agreement to launch the course in October 2019.
This article was written by Hope Njoroge
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