The December 2020 ACCESS Newsletter
Dear Members,

Greetings from the Secretariat!

What an extraordinary year this has been. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we advocate for energy access, with virtual meetings forming the bulk of our engagements with members and key stakeholders. This has brought people together, but has reduced the spontaneity that comes with physical meetings, limiting our advocacy opportunities. The pandemic has underscored the importance of energy access in the health sector, with energy for productive use being an important conversation starter. We look forward to receiving vaccines which will make it possible for us to continue to deliver our work face to face, even as we adapt to virtual meetings.

In this issue, we give an overview of the fourth and final quarter of the year, and highlights of what we have done all year.

In the new year, we look forward to continued engagement. The Regional Coordinating Organizations will support in rallying members towards our advocacy causes and capacity building initiatives. Earlier in the year, we bid goodbye to Edith Karimi and welcomed Anne Songole in the role of Advocacy and Communications Manager, and you will be hearing more from her.

We would love to hear from you and request you to give us any announcements and stories that you may have on email to

As we break for the year, we wish you safe and happy holidays!

From the ACCESS Secretariat, 
Jacqueline Kimeu & Anne Songole

 ACCESS West Africa Node announced!
ACCESS concluded the selection process for a West Africa Node, settling on Strategic Youth Network for Development in Ghana. Led by Ezekiel Chibeze, the organization has been instrumental to environmental and energy lobby in the region. The Node will coordinate CSOs in the region in implementing the three workstreams of ACCESS Coalition in 2021. The launch of the RCO’s Advocacy Strategy will be held in early 2021, and members will be informed beforehand. Click here to read more.
High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE) 2021 - Consultation with CSOs
The HLDE 2021 is scheduled to take place in September 2021 and will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to develop concrete actions to further accelerate SDG 7 implementation. The secretariat wrote to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) requesting for an informative session with access members and other CSOs. We also sought to know how ACCESS can be part of the preparatory process especially in the Energy Access Theme. In the coming year, ACCESS will continue to pursue the discussion with UN-DESA and SEforALL to ensure members ’voices are heard during the preparatory process. The letter can be viewed here.
Influencing the AfDB Annual General Meeting in August 2020
During this period, AfDB held its Annual General Meeting virtually in August and ACCESS prepared a Statement calling on the Bank to ensure an inclusive and sustainable energy transition in efforts to build a just Green Recovery. The key messages included the need to prioritize access to decentralized renewable electricity and clean cooking solutions as integral components of a sustainable and inclusive energy transition; scaling up investments in energy for health, education and productive uses; commitment to power past oil and gas and finally; engagement with Civil Society Organizations. ACCESS also initiated twitter chats targeting the Bank. The Statement can be accessed here. In the coming year, ACCESS will continue to influence the efforts of the AfDB at both country and regional levels.
Influencing the World Bank Africa LeAP Initiative
The World Bank is currently developing the Africa Energy Strategy- a regional program towards universal energy access. The secretariat prepared an article calling on the Bank to ensure the new Strategy is inclusive and pro-poor, emphasizing the need for consultation with African CSOs. The article also called on the Bank to prioritize inclusive and integrated energy planning that is responsive to the wider development needs. ACCESS will continue to influence World Bank energy planning processes in 2021. The article can be accessed here.
Influencing World Bank County Partnership Frameworks (CPF) and Systematic Country Diagnostics (SCDs)
ACCESS Coalition and partners organized a virtual meeting on September 29, 2020 to facilitate dialogue among CSOs in the region, and deliberate on the key opportunities for CSOs consultations and involvement in the World Bank country planning processes i.e. CPF and SCDs. The meeting drew participants from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal, Ghana and the Netherlands. Recourse presented a CSOs guide that they had developed with other partners on how to influence the World Bank’s CPF and SCD processes. Key highlights of the report can be found here. The secretariat will continue to engage to ensure CSOs are consulted in the planning processes.

CSOs engagement in Ghana
Earlier in the year, ACCESS in collaboration with Hivos held a CSO engagement workshop in Ghana with the rationale of understanding how CSOs are using the civic space to represent the views of people without access to energy. You can read more about the workshop here. In the same breadth, ACCESS Coordination Group members based in Ghana, Faustina Boakye and Ezekiel Chibeze, accompanied the ACCESS secretariat on a courtesy call on the AfDB office in Ghana & the Ministry of Energy in Ghana as part of our efforts to influence the Bank’s planning processes. Similar visits were planned for Zambia and Senegal but were cancelled due to the travel restrictions brought about by COVID-19.
Assessments on the status of civic space for CSOs in the Southern and West Africa regions
During the year, ACCESS was supported by Hivos to undertake two studies to document how CSOs are using the civic space to raise the voices of the people without access to energy. The studies aimed at identifying the key opportunities for CSOs/ACCESS members to influence the civic space for renewable energy. Policy briefs for the different countries will be produced in the first quarter of 2021 together with a simplified Theory of Change that can easily be adapted by CSOs for their influencing. More details on the progress will be shared in the beginning of the year 2021.
Covid-19 Member Survey
ACCESS Learning Group and the secretariat carried out a survey to determine how ACCESS members and other energy CSOs have been affected by the pandemic, their coping mechanisms, and how best CSOs can continue playing their advocacy role. Following the survey, the secretariat in collaboration with the ACCESS Learning group held a webinar to share the findings.  Members pointed out the key areas in which the secretariat could add value to their work. These areas cut across funding, information sharing, and online meetings to strengthen knowledge, capacity building and joint advocacy for the recognition of energy access as crucial to the fight against COVID-19. Key panelists who shared insights during the webinar were drawn from POWERforALL, ARE, Renew'N'Able Malawi', and Smiling through the light. In the coming year, ACCESS will amplify online meetings to engage more with members.
Webinar on Kenya's Finance Bill
ACCESS, partners and members in Kenya held a webinar to review fiscal disincentives for cooking and solar. The webinar together with sustained advocacy efforts by CSOs including targeting the media, the taxation of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) was postponed for one year until July 2021. ACCESS will work with the East Africa Node to ensure that we continue to lobby the government to scrap off the levy in the 2021 Finance Bill.  You can find more information on the ACCESS blog.
African Regional Forums on SDGs
ACCESS attended the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020) that took place on February 24-27, 2020 in Zimbabwe. The event was a prelude to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The forum adopted a declaration dubbed 'Victoria Falls Declaration on the UN Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development in Africa'. You can read more on the ACCESS blog here. In the coming year, ACCESS will also actively participate and ensure members attend the forum scheduled for March 1-4, 2021.  We are calling on CSOs interested in holding side events to reach out to the secretariat for joint planning.

We are recruiting a Regional Node for Southern Africa

Click here to read more, apply or share!

ACCESS Working Groups support the activities of the secretariat in line the three workstreams. During the year, the groups began working on their strategies for engagement and continued to support the activities on the Coalition. In the coming year, the groups will begin implementing the strategies and support the activities of the RCOs in efforts to accelerate SDG 7 implementation at the country/regional level. We highly applaud the commitment of the working group leads in supporting the secretariat’s activities.
  • Learning Group Lead - Kevin Johnstone from IIED
  • SDG 7 working Group - Rita Poppe from Hivos
  • World Bank/ AfDB Working Group - Jason Farr from Oxfam America
In the coming year, we highly encourage members to join various working groups of their interest; the Terms of Reference for the groups will be circulated in the first quarter of 2021.
We make special mention of the new members who joined us this year, and welcome them once more to ACCESS!
  • Young Volunteers for the Environment (Ghana)
  • Clean Cooking Association of Kenya
  • Arid Land Information Network (Kenya)
  • Smiling Through The Light (Sierra Leone)
  • Nepal Energy Foundation (Nepal)
  • Solar Aid (UK)
  • Rainforest Alliance (Kenya)
  • Sustainable Energy Access Forum (Kenya)
  • Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Fuels
AfDB on December 14, 2020 launched the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa Special Fund which will focus its interventions on three thematic areas: (1) green mini-grids to accelerate energy access to underserved populations; (2) green baseload to support clean generation capacity in the grid; and (3) energy efficiency to optimize energy systems and reduce energy intensity. Funding for SEFA was initially drawn from Denmark & AfDB then later, the governments of UK, US, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, & Germany supported, as well as the Nordic Development Fund. Click here to read more.

During the Climate Ambition Summit held on December 12, 2020, UK Prime Minister announced that they will cease support for fossil fuels in the global south. The welcome announcement came in the wake of an announcement of several finance vehicles by the World Bank Group to support countries to take climate action. Read more about those here.

IRENA and AfDB on December 9, 2020 announced a partnership to support Africa’s energy transition under a framework of core activities. These include co-organising renewable energy investment forums as part of IRENA’s contribution to the Climate Investment Platform, and collaboration on the Bank’s annual Africa Investment Forum. Click here to read more.

AfDB approved a $20 million concessional investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to establish the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform (CRP). The $50 million blended finance initiative, will provide relief and recovery capital to energy access businesses, supporting them through and beyond the pandemic. Click here to read more.

The 2020 AfDB CSO Forum was held on November 26 and 27,  2020. It is the first CSO Forum to be held virtually, and CSOs presented the measures they have been taking in handling Covid-19. Bank Departments also gave feedback on plans for renewed CSO engagement that began with a needs assessment and design thinking workshop in 2019. Among the plans for CSO engagement are in-country Open Days and capacity building initiatives. A review of the Independent Review Mechanism, through which CSOs can mobilize communities to submit complaints against any problematic AfDB projects or investments, is ongoing and in early 2021 there will be feedback on it. Read the 2019 Annual Report of the Independent Review Mechanism and the Bank President’s remarks here.

The African Development Bank selected a CSO Committee which aims to build stronger partnerships with the African civil society community for a term ending in 2022. It has 11 civil society members who will sit alongside 11 Bank staff.

AfDB approved a $5 million investment in the SPARK+ Africa Fund to deliver clean cooking solutions to over two million households across Africa. The European Commission will contribute an additional €10 million.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held its fourth annual Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF 2020) from November 24-26 2020 calling for acceleration of decentralized renewable energy in West Africa.

Ministers from African countries representing nearly three-quarters of the continent’s energy consumption and more than half of its population met with global energy leaders on 24 November 2020 to consider how to revitalize the African energy sector and enable a sustainable economic recovery after the pandemic. Under the theme of Securing Africa’s Energy Future in the Wake of Covid-19, they stressed the need for greater investment to revitalize the energy sector and drive sustainable recovery. Read more about this here.
The Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) 2020 report was released. RISE is a tool that assesses and compares national policy frameworks for sustainable energy in 138 countries that represent 98pc of the global population. RISE contains 30 indicators on policy support for four pillars of sustainable energy – access to electricity, access to clean cooking (for 55 access-deficit countries), energy efficiency, and renewable energy. The report can be accessed here.

ENERGIA, the African Development Bank and the Climate Investment Funds  jointly launched four country briefs on November 24, 2020 during a virtual event “Gender and Sustainable Energy Access in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda”. The briefs contribute to increasing data availability on gender and energy and provide insights for future gender sensitive interventions to ensure men and women reap the benefits of energy interventions. 
On November 19, 2020 SeforALL published two reports under the title Energizing Finance, one titled “Understanding the Landscape”, and the other “Missing the Mark”. The former provides valuable information on the commitments on electrification and clean cooking, while the latter identifies the gaps between commitments and disbursements of development finance for energy. 
The Alliance for Rural Electrification published a brief: Women Entrepreneurs as Key Drivers in the Decentralised Renewable Energy Sector: Best Practices and Innovative Business Models. The Brief uses case studies to highlight the essential role that women play in energy access and sustainable socio-economic development in rural communities and serve as inspiration for innovative gender-sensitive approaches to consolidate gender equality at each level of the DRE supply chain.

Modern Energy Cooking Services launched the ESMAP/MECS ‘Cooking with Electricity: A Cost Perspective’ report on November 23 2020. The report uses case studies to compare current and projected costs of a range of electric cooking (eCooking) solutions to the consumer with current expenditures on cooking fuels.
Earlier in September, they launched the State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services Report which builds on the World Bank’s established Multi-Tier Framework (MTF) to provide an in-depth, comprehensive understanding of household cooking-energy needs to inform strategies for adoption of modern energy cooking solutions.
Renewable energy solutions can be the backbone of urban decarbonization efforts, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Climate Initiative (IKI) on the Rise of renewables in cities: Energy solutions for the urban future finds. 
The Global Commission to End Energy Poverty released the 2020 report on Electricity prepared by the MIT research team with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and extensive feedback, engagement, and guidance from the Commission.


Decentralized Renewable Energy can make electricity affordable in Kenya

Kenya launches its Bioenergy Strategy


Statement ahead of AfDB Annual Meeting


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