Sustainable Energy Markets Acceleration (SEMA)
SEMA was a project aimed at promoting increased use of solar energy by unlocking the potential of retail financing to boost end-user demand. FRIENDS Consult co-designed the project with Triodos Facet o the Netherlands (now part of Palladium) and managed it for four years (2010 to 2014), beating all the deliverables targets. The uptake of solar energy increased, affording low-income Ugandans several advantages like healthier living as they replaced kerosene candles with cleaner energy, MSME business boost as solar equipment business grew, and solar-powered microenterprises producing better and more cost-effectively.
The project and its rationale
The was project funded by the European Union and Hivos, and enabled solar entrepreneurs and rural financial institutions work together to make renewable energy solutions more available and affordable to households and small businesses. Working with eight financial institutions and more than twenty solar companies/ businesses, the project helped about 6,000 households and small businesses to acquire and use solar solutions. The collaboration mechanism was to establish partnerships, based on MoUs between solar companies and financial institutions, to provide good quality solar equipment financing to end users.
Developmental value of SEMA’s demonstration effect
Uganda, like many African countries, faces a pressing challenge: the need for sustainable energy solutions. With a rapidly growing population and increasing energy demands, the country must look for innovative ways to provide affordable and reliable electricity. One promising way to address this is through the expansion of solar energy financing through partnerships like the SEMA project did. SEMA demonstrated that:
- Suitable end-user financing can promote increased use of sustainable energy even by poor people
- The use of affordable, renewable energy empowers both households and MSMEs
- Partnerships can enable energy enterprises to scale up their operations, reaching a larger customer base and ensuring long-term viability while helping more people to move away from unhealthy sources of energy
The future of sustainable energy in Uganda and the rest of Africa is promising. African countries are increasingly recognizing the economic, environmental, and social benefits of transitioning to renewable energy sources. As they continue to invest in sustainable energy initiatives, Africa is poised to its growing energy demands demonstrate to the rest of the world the development value of renewable energy. The journey towards a greener and more prosperous Africa is well underway. This can be significantly accelerated by clean energy-focused partnerships to serve end-users at the grassroots level.
Project Officer, FCL.