4 November – New Energy Nexus Uganda – an organisation supporting entrepreneurs to provide clean energy products in Uganda’s rural communities, where only 19% of the population have access to electricity – is a winner of the Ashden Award for energy access innovation.
Presented at COP26 at a ceremony attended by the President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado, the Award honours pioneering organisations lowering carbon emissions and building a fairer world. Winners receive grants, publicity and support to grow and replicate their innovation.
New Energy Nexus Uganda connects people in rural areas with clean energy, through financing, training, technology and investment. In rural Uganda, Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) provide many essential services – supporting better health, education, sanitation and work for local people. New Energy Nexus partners with these locally structured, small organisations to bring affordable renewable energy to the country’s remote (or last-mile) villages.
Aneri Pradhan, founder of ENVenture and Board Director of New Energy Nexus Uganda, said:
“This award is a testament to the entrepreneurs in rural Uganda who are powering their communities with clean energy. We have proven that clean energy distribution is scalable through local Community-Based Organisations, who not only increase access to clean energy in their localities, but create jobs too.
“We are thrilled that Ashden has recognised that empowering grassroots networks are key for increasing access to energy in under-resourced areas, and we hope our model for inclusive distribution will be replicated across the world.”
New Energy Nexus has incubated 123 small clean energy enterprises across Uganda. This has created 650 jobs, 70% of which are occupied by women. These organisations have sold more than 15,000 clean energy products, benefiting 100,000 people, and 77% of customers say their quality of life has improved as a result of their new product. Just over 120 investments have been made to the value of US$200,000 and US$2.9 million income has been saved annually as a result of transition to clean technologies.
Before working with New Energy Nexus, most community-based organisations relied on donations for income. New Energy Nexus provides entrepreneurship training and mentoring, and energy loans to buy clean energy products such as solar lanterns, briquettes, water filters and cookstoves. Organisations sell these at affordable prices to local people. Once organisations have established a successful business model, they unlock another level of credit access qualifying for further support and larger energy loans to buy more products and invest in marketing and sales teams.
Other innovation from New Energy Nexus Uganda includes an offline bookkeeping application for the energy merchants and street vendors. This tracks inventory and sales, works well with limited internet connection, and relies on pictures to ensure it is usable by people with low literacy levels.
One successful partnership is with RFCare, a community-based organisation empowering women and youngpeople in the Rwenzori Highlands region. Through New Energy Nexus’ incubation program, it received a loan of US$2,000 to support the sale of cookstoves that create less air pollution than traditional models, as well as fuel briquettes and non-electric water filters. The loan also helped train young people in cook stove installation and repair. So far, the enterprises have sold 1,800 stoves.
Biira Imelda RFCare cofounder (a New Energy Nexus Uganda partner), said:
“RFCare has been able to work with communities in hard-to-reach areas in Kasese district, due to the business loans accessed from New Energy Nexus Uganda. The elderly are proudly cooking with an improved cook stove.”
Violet Nyakuru, Executive Director at Nile Community Empowerment (a New Energy Nexus Uganda partner), said:
“Madiokoll, Rhino camp has no access to electricity and households rely on kerosene lamps for lighting. With solar lanterns, my clients can now save off kerosene and their children are able to read at night with ease. I believe this is just the beginning of an energy transition for my community.”
David Olodi, Director and Founder of Agri-Light Limited (a New Energy Nexus Uganda partner), said:
“Thanks to ENVenture’s growth fund, we expanded our clean energy business from selling clean energy products to just 5 groups to now operating in over five districts in the northern part of Uganda. 17 out of 30 people in each of our groups have either a pico system or a cookstove.”
Harriet Lamb, CEO of UK-based Ashden, said:
“The Ashden Awards have showcased bold, brilliant and ground-breaking initiatives at COP26. Our winners show what is possible in the shift to a fairer low carbon future and should inspire world leaders to take decisive action to slash carbon emissions. The message to leaders at COP26 is clear – if they get behind such practical and proven climate solutions a zero carbon world is within our reach.”
H.E. President of the Republic of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado, said:
“All the nominees to the 2021 Ashden Awards have chosen to lead by example. In Costa Rica we share the conviction that sustainable development goes hand in hand with economic growth, as well as a deep commitment to decarbonisation and to promote nature-based solutions to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss challenges we face. For that, I do believe the great endeavour of our generation is to abolish fossil fuels.”
About the Ashden Awards
Climate solutions charity Ashden spotlights and supports climate and energy innovators in the UK and low-income countries delivering proven, ready-to-scale climate solutions. It works with businesses, non-profits and public sector organisations. The Ashden Awards were launched in 2001, and this year’s ceremony took place in the Green Zone at COP26. World leaders and international organisations are gathering in Glasgow from 1-13 November to agree a global plan for tackling the climate crisis.
The 2021 winners were chosen from over 800 applicants for their work creating resilience, green economies – including jobs and training – and fairer societies.
Photos are available here
Mackline Banaga Program Analyst, New Energy Nexus Uganda, phone: +256 706 654 579 (based in Uganda) email@example.com
Tristan Tremschnug, Global Communications Director, phone: +852 9712 330 (based in Hong Kong), firstname.lastname@example.org