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Energy access for productive use

Facts, challenges & objectives

Access to clean energy is a precondition for social and economic development. Globally, 733 million people still do not have access to electricity of which 600 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Providing access to electricity through decentralised renewable energy appliances, that are used productively, can facilitate local economic growth and improve living conditions.

Being deprived from access to clean and affordable energy has major impacts on lives, namely health care, education, productivity, and poverty. While large cities are usually fully electrified, 80% of the people in SSA living without electricity live in rural areas with low population density. Most work in agriculture with low productivity, amongst others due to energy poverty. Providing access to energy through productive use of energy (PUE) appliances can improve the economic development of local enterprises. For example, solar water pumps can potentially increase the annual income of farmers by 50% or more, in comparison to rainfed irrigation. By using solar powered irrigation, the harvest of crops is more reliable and independent of rainfall. Another important productive use appliance in rural areas is solar refrigeration, which can be used by rural enterprises to preserve milk or harvest.

The alternative to stand-alone solar appliances or mini-grids are diesel generators. They are costly in operation and emit CO2. As rural populations in SSA gain access to energy, they have the possibility to avoid – or leapfrog – the use of diesel-generators and fossil fuels. However, smallholder farms are often unaware of the benefits of solar technology devices. They lack access to finance. In addition, solar companies have been reluctant to extend their supply chains from urban centers to rural areas, making it difficult for rural populations to access PV-appliances.

Green People’s Energy for Africa promotes energy access and productive use of energy by following a  threefold approach and providing support for solar (PUE) companies, improving framework conditions and supporting end-users. Activities include the following:

PUE companies

  • Promoting PUE technologies in rural areas through results-based financing (RBF) programmes with solar companies, i.e. incentivizing the sales of systems to rural customers
  • Professionalizing local solar companies through business development support
  • Training technical staff of solar companies in operating and maintaining solar systems

Framework conditions

  • Assessing the quality of PUE appliances and making their quality transparent for customers with the VeraSol database
  • Implementing pilot installations for demonstration purposes and awareness raising among political partners and stakeholders

End-users

  • Awareness-raising campaigns in rural areas, sensitization of rural enterprises on the economic potentials of PUE
  • Business development support to rural enterprises incl. energy assessments to understand the business case of acquiring and using PUE appliances
  • Supporting access to finance e.g. by establishing guarantee funds or offering incentive payments for microfinance institutions (MFIs) so rural populations can buy solar technologies
  • Supporting community-based approaches by building the capacities of communities and cooperatives to jointly purchase, operate and maintain PUE appliances

Articles highlighting productive use measures

FeatureNewsSDG 7

Dried and ready to market in a fraction of time and cost – why farmers are breaking with tradition

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From 15 to 2 days – why Ethiopian seed cooperatives are using solar dryers.
DebateSDG 7

“Modern electrical appliances are rarely worthwhile for individuals, but they are for groups.”

Miriam Schröder, energy access expert, and Carsten Hellpap, former head of EnDev, on developing the PUE market.
StorySDG 7

Solar professionals made in Zambia

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Local farmer Hamwaata Halwiindi builds skillset to build energy security in his community.
ProfileSDG 8

Solar drying for coffee beans

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Using solar drying systems, Kenya’s coffee farmers can improve the quality of the beans, reduce labour input and achieve higher prices.
FeatureSDG 7

Mini-grids for productive use in Namibia and Uganda

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The role of mini-grids and tariffs and how they are perceived differently.
NewsSDG 7

Innovative solar-powered irrigation system on wheels

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As the solar sector grows in Namibia, innovation capitalises on this growth.
NewsSDG 7

Green irrigation saves water, costs, and working hours

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A pilot in Ethiopia helps smallholder farmers keep irrigation costs down and conserve water.
StorySDG 7

“Access to finance is crucial”

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Bobby Gyesi, president of SGA Farms in Ghana, explains how solar irrigation is only one of many steps to a just transition.
FeatureSDG 7

Pioneering green cooling in rural Ethiopia

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Together with partners, Green People´s Energy is testing solar cooling in horticultural cooperatives.
ProfileSDG 7

Providing impetus for local value creation and more solar electricity

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Promoting new business models to increase value creation and enable sustainable electricity supply.
StorySDG 1

Solar drying – and avoiding crop losses

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In Ethiopia, Green People´s Energy is testing solar drying for fruits, beans and crops.
NewsSDG 17

Green People’s Energy promotes solar irrigation in Ethiopia

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How do you combine climate-friendly water pumping and irrigation with efficient water usage? Solar-powered irrigation is the answer! To spread this insight, the Green People´s Energy initiative has built up a training plot and demonstration plot for this technology. To increase awareness and knowledge of the…
ProfileSDG 7

Project for the economic autonomy of rural communities through the productive use of renewable energy

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Supporting the purchase of photovoltaic systems to set up income-generating activities, as well as providing training for setting up and maintaining these systems.
StorySDG 3

Health centres sell ice cream and drinks thanks to solar electricity

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Since October 2021, 15 health centres have been producing their own solar electricity. This allows them to supply patients around the clock. People also come by for another reason. Namely, at the centres, people can buy cold drinks and ice cream, charge their cell phones or borrow a solar lamp for a small fee. The r…
ProfileSDG 7

PV on stilts – two opportunities for Benin’s farmers     

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Agri-PV systems allow agricultural land to be used to generate renewable electricity in parallel with growing food.
StorySDG 7

A water pump that inspires a community to do more

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In 2021, at the Langdi Paradise Farms in Upper West Ghana, a solar mechanized water pump was installed through the support of the Green People’s Energy project of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Thanks to the new irrigation, the farmers can now grow vegetables in the dry season. But fo…
ProfileSDG 17

Foundation promotes solar technologies for farmers 

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The “Maa Green Energy” project aims to kick-start the local market for solar products
ProfileSDG 13

What is the CO2 reduction potential of e-mobility? 

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Measuring CO2 savings to pave the way for e-mobility in Uganda.
StorySDG 7

Results-based financing lets farmers in Senegal buy solar-powered water pumps, helping to increase harvests

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After almost 40 farmers bought solar pumps through the results-based financing approach used by Germany’s initiative for Green People’s Energy, they reported almost 100% increases in their harvests. No wonder another 50 farmers have now registered as potential customers for solar pumps.
StorySDG 7

Using the sun’s rays to refrigerate food

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Electricity from solar plants and cooling technology are an ideal mix to help industries develop. In this interview, Thomas Bundi from Strathmore University explains the technology and talks about the workshop he was instrumental in developing.
StorySDG 5

Dairy committees learn business 101

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40 members of the cooperatives underwent training in entrepreneurship and organisational dynamics in January.
ProfileSDG 2SDG 8

Greenhouses create secure jobs for women

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Thanks to solar-irrigated greenhouses, solar cooling and innovative marketing, women farmers in northern Malawi can triple their income.
NewsSDG 7

New training: Solar cooling systems significantly increase productivity

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The Solar Cooling training course will be available from 21 to 23 February.
DebateSDG 7

Energy is the key to regional value creation

Interview31 August 2021 Energy is the key to regional value creation Since its announcement by Federal Minister Dr. Gerd Müller in 2017, the initiative, Green People’s Energy for Africa, has launched numerous projects in nine focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The two BMZ Special Representatives for Energy i…
FeatureSDG 7

GBE launches solar design advisory support for SMEs in Uganda

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50 companies can benefit from free technical advice and customised guidance on investing in solar energy.
FeatureSDG 7

Better value chains in African agriculture

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The postgraduate course “Food Chains in Agriculture” had this year 27 participants from Ethiopia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Togo and Tunisia.
FeatureSDG 7

Solid financing of solar energy systems for commercial purposes

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Results-Based financing (RBF) mechanism helped spreading the use of solar-powered agricultural machinery in Benin.
FeatureSDG 7

Ten solar-powered water pump systems supply farmers in Benin

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The high-quality solar-powered pumps enable farmers to save up to 200 euros a month.
ProfileSDG 3

Keeping Vaccines Cool with Solar Power

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Three additional health centers are able to keep vaccines cold, making immunizations available to more people in northern Uganda.
NewsSDG 7

Solar training for agricultural coaches

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Green People’s Energy’s has trained a dozen agricultural trainers on the use of renewable energy in off-grid areas in Benin.
ProfileSDG 8

Solar-cooled milk boosts income

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Solar-cooled milk containers are helping more dairy farmers become part of Zambia’s milk value chain.
FeatureSDG 17

Framework set for sustainable bioenergy in Côte d’Ivoire

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With 1,200 million tonnes of biomass annually, Côte d’Ivoire has excellent potential for bioenergy production.
ProfileSDG 7

Solar water pumps for Laikipia

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The project “Access to Solar Water Pumps in Laikipia,” implemented by SNV Netherlands Developmnt Organisation, aims to help remove obstacles in irrigation and raise awareness for the benefits of solar systems.
FeatureSDG 7

Discussing the financing of renewable energy projects for productive use in Senegal

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GBE Senegal organized a three-day sensitization workshop on the possibilities to improve and expand the financing offers for renewable energy projects.
FeatureSDG 7

Improving incomes in the banana sector using solar energy

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48 companies in the banana value chain will soon benefit from better production conditions: With the installation of pumping systems, cold chain, and processing units that will be powered by solar energy. These companies will thus improve the quality of their product and increase their income.
ProfileSDG 8

Solar Water Pumps Secure Harvests and Livelihoods

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Project strengthens irrigation systems and climate resilience of smallholder farmers in northern Tanzania.
NewsSDG 7

Showcase project for more sustainable Tea Production in Uganda

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With the help of renewable energy, tea factories can reduce their energy costs, produce more economically and reduce deforestation.
FeatureSDG 7

Solar pumps secure harvests, income and livelihoods in northern Tanzania

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Where rain becomes rarer, solar-powered water pumps ensure the survival of smallholder farmers. The technology is low-maintenance and opens up numerous opportunities for people, as an example from Tanzania shows.
StorySDG 7

Boda boda taxis: First charging stations outside Kampala for solar-powered electric motorbikes are coming

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Stinking, rattling, CO2 emissions, that’s a thing of the past – at least for the electric motorbikes charged by solar power as piloted in a project of Green People’s Energy (GBE) Uganda
FeatureSDG 7

34 banana and agricultural producers exchanged ideas on solar irrigation and sustainable processing possibilities

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GBE Senegal discussed with the participants the advantages of solar irrigation systems for banana and other agricultural cultivation methods. The workshop also became interactive through matchmaking with other market actors, such as financial institutions.
FeatureSDG 7

First harvest at GBE Uganda’s solar irrigation demo garden in Gulu

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Only months after its set up at GIZ office in Gulu, GBE Uganda’s demonstration garden for Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) brought a first rich yield of tomatoes, collards, and other vegetables.
NewsSDG 5

GBE supports, in collaboration with ENDA Energie, the solar electrification of women-led rural dairy micro-enterprisess

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GBE supports the solar electrification of 24 mainly women-led dairy micro-enterprises in rural Senegal, thereby adding value to milk production, and reducing production waste for 200 farmers.
NewsSDG 7

Call for Manifestation of Interest: Support in Access to Finance for Productive Use Renewable Energy Projects

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GBE offers access to finance consulting for local productive use renewable energy project developers. The Call for Manifestation of Interest is open until Feb. 28, 2021.
NewsSDG 7

Solarbetriebene Bewässerungssysteme

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SPIS Schulungsmöglichkeit (zweite Aufnahmerunde) Von Mai bis Juli 2020 stellte die Ländermaßnahme Benin der GBE aufgrund des Covid19-Lockdowns auf Online-Trainingsformate um. Partnerunternehmen aus der Solarbranche wurden webbasierte Trainingskurse zu solarbetriebenen Bewässerungssystemen angeboten.
NewsODD 7

Systèmes d’irrigation à énergie solaire

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Opportunité de formation SPIS (deuxième vague); De mai à juillet 2020, GBE Bénin a réagi au blocage de COVID-19 dans le pays en mettant en ligne ses activités de formation; les entreprises solaires partenaires ont eu accès à un cours de formation en ligne sur l’irrigation à l’énergie solaire.
NewsSDG 7

Solar Energy Irrigation Systems

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SPIS Training opportunity (second intake); From May to July 2020, GBE Benin reacted to the COVID-19 lockdown in the country by taking their training activities online; partner solar companies were offered access to a web-based training course on solar powered irrigation.
ProfileSDG 8

Using Solar Power in Coffee Production

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Using solar drying systems, Kenya’s coffee farmers can improve the quality of beans, reduce labour input and achieve higher prices.
ProfileSDG 7

Solar Park Secures Award Winning Radio Station

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Radio Pacis produces its own electricity, while also providing a supply to the public power grid.
NewsSDG 3

Production of Standardized and Accessible Fabric Masks

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Green People’s Energy Mozambique supports the production of standardized and accessible fabric masks to promote safety measures and income generation for small-scale producers as part of its component on Productive Use of Energy. The distribution of masks will include recommendations for their use as well as awarene…
NewsSDG 7

First Productive Use of Energy idea Competition for the Private Sector

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In response to the great relevance of off-grid energy for productive use (PUE), Green People’s Energy Uganda, launched the first PuE Idea Competition for the Private Sector in late May. Solar distributors, project developers and operators of PuE technologies were invited to apply. Successful applicants are eligible…