Scaling Up Energy Access through Cross-sector Partnerships

Globally, some 1.3 billion people in developing countries (20% of the world’s population) do not have access to electricity and lighting. But, access to affordable modern forms of energy is not only a pre-requisite for economic prosperity, but also for local growth and sustainable development. Despite low incomes, US$ 37 billion/year is already being spent on meeting basic energy needs with US$ 18 billion spent on electricity and lighting services alone.

The market opportunity for business is substantial. This view is supported by experts who state that innovative, market based, financially viable and long-term sustainable business models are critical for scaling energy access, even where the necessary financing and policies are in place. To address the 1.3 billion market for electricity and lighting solutions, a mix of solutions in the on-grid, mini-grid and devices / solar home systems is needed.

Over the past 18 months, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with PwC, has been developing a cross-industry framework that can help the energy access ecosystem grow. Contributions from more than 40 experts from the private, public and civil sector have helped to identify the barriers preventing private sector investment at scale.

The partnership framework that has been developed brings together energy providers (utilities, technology providers, energy service providers) with other industries that would benefit from having access to energy. This includes for example the telecom industry, consumer electronics industries, agriculture and local small and medium sized enterprises working together to provide off-grid energy access. The framework is particularly designed to help private sector co-investment, scaling up of working solutions and replication at global level. A pilot is currently underway in Kenya to test the partnership framework and other projects are currently under development.