INSABA: Building Renewable Energy Potential in Africa


We've taken note of a number of efforts in African countries to use renewable technologies to spread and/or stabilize electrification. Most of these projects have been independent of one another; however, a relatively new effort, the Integrated Southern African Business Advisory (INSABA) is taking a regional approach to building renewable capacity. According to the project's web site, the planned advisory network will build upon earlier efforts to create "...a critical mass of human capital with up to date knowledge and expertise in energy planning and project financing, as well as in the latest technologies and best practices available for increasing the productive use of renewable energies." The network will address both RE development, and demand creation:
...the project takes a unique two component approach: it will provide support to and bring together the demand side for Renewable Energy on the one hand, and the supply side on the other. Pilot regions for launching this approach will be identified in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia. The project is being co-financed under the programme Coopener by DG Transport and Energy of the European Commission.

In order to allow long-term effects, local partner organisations will be trained to act as intermediaries and to continue activities after the project period. They will be enabled to train and coach Renewable Energy Suppliers and locally based Interdisciplinary Advisory Teams, to organise business advisory interventions and match-making between supply and demand-side. The intervention will be framed by dialogue activities on favourable legal and policy frameworks to support the process of strengthening productive and sustainable Renewable Energy application in southern Africa. Decision makers from governmental and non-governmental organisations, from business associations and other stakeholders will be included in this dialogue.

Supported by German NGO InWEnt, the project's multi-stakeholder approach is particularly encouraging... more developed countries might want to take a look at the model being built here. INSABA is also focused on appropriate use of technology based on local circumstances: according to University of Zambia professor Francis Yamba, the participants will consider the full range of available renewable technologies, including solar PV, thermal solar, micro hydro and biomass.

Projects like these remind us that the developing world will likely take the early steps towards more innovative uses of renewables: many regions and localities are literally starting from scratch, so they're not encumbered with technological or mental frameworks that demand certain approaches. We'll watch this one closely... ::INSABA via VOA News
Photo credit: Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley

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