Awarding solar solutions that change communities

It is quite well publicised that in Sub-Saharan Africa, approximately a third of the population (approximately 600 million people) has no access to electricity, with the demand far exceeding supply, due to increasing life expectancy driven by greater access to healthcare, increased urbanisation, and technological advances.

Awarding solar solutions that change communities

The common belief is that innovative and self-made solutions will be key to tackle the challenges of energy insufficiency. The Phanes Group Solar Incubator is an initiative launched by Phanes Group, a Dubai based solar PV developer, and its partners, including Hogan Lovells, to identify and support promising solar Photovoltaic (PV) project developers in sub-Saharan Africa. Now in its second year, the objective of the competition and incubator programme is to give solar projects that would otherwise not have access to the expertise and network necessary to achieve bankability, a platform from which to grow and expand.

One of the criteria for the PV projects entering this competition is that they must have a strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aspect that seeks to better the lives of the communities around them. A Solar Project in Senegal recently won the this award evaluated by an international panel. They selected the winning project – Mr. Mbaye Hadj and his Gossas Solar Farm Project (30 MW).

The announcement was made at the “Unlocking Solar Capital: Africa” conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where three finalists presented their proposal to a panel of international industry experts including Arun Velusami, partner at Hogan Lovells the CEO of Phanes Group and senior representatives from responsAbility, ECREEE, Group, RINA, and African Development Bank. “The Incubator is a really inspiring experience, particularly with regards to seeing the efforts that developers in a variety of countries in Africa are taking to develop energy projects in their respective countries, whilst at the same time focusing on corporate social responsibility,” says Velusami. “All developers demonstrated innovation in capturing and using solar energy to make a difference in their communities.”

The goal of the Phanes Group Solar Incubator, held under the theme, “Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future,” is to provide access to commercial and technical knowledge, and eventually funding, to promising PV projects on the continent. There is a focus on helping entrepreneurs overcome obstacles that could prevent vital solar initiatives from reaching the multitude of citizens who do not have access to stable power. The initiative aims to select and develop PV project opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa that haven’t been able to gain access to funding and necessary know-how to date. The winning project is to receive free commercial and technical support in the incubator workshop in Dubai held at Phanes Group’s headquarters, including legal advice from Hogan Lovells.

It will be an an intensive four-day knowledge workshop for Mr. Hadj, and he will be given the opportunity to co-develop the project with Phanes Group and bring it to a financial close. Partnering with the Phanes Group is one of the elements of Hogan Lovells commitment to innovation in the clean energy space. Hogan Lovells is committed to celebrating ingenuity, resourcefulness, and commitment to community and earlier this year launched our own Community Solar Innovation Awards, the inaugural awards were held in South Africa.

The inspiration behind establishing the Community Solar Innovation Awards was to reinforce our commitment the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which call for collaboration between the private sector and civil society to end extreme poverty, tackle inequality and injustice, and safeguard our planet. Hogan Lovells, working with our partners at Barefoot College, has a commitment to light up 20 000 households around the world by 2020, targeting those in the most underprivileged communities. We look forward to working with the Phanes Group and other partners to achieve this goal.

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