Description/achievement of initiative
More than one billion people worldwide, most of them living in rural isolated communities, don’t have any access to electricity and modern energy services. Min-E Access will provide a minimum of electricity access to households in these rural isolated areas through renewable energy technologies, covering at least three basic services: (1) lighting, (2) radio reception, and (3) cell phone charging. Most of the financial support required for this partnership will be directed towards two major modules that will ensure the sustainability of this initiative: (1) capacity building and (2) entrepreneurship development, both targeted at the local level.
The effort represents the first step towards adequate levels of universal electricity access worldwide, as put forward by the Secretary-General’s SE4All (Sustainable Energy for All) initiative and goal 7 of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), especially target 7.1: “By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.” The initiative can empower disadvantaged people with the minimum energy necessary to improve their education, accelerate the transfer of knowledge, facilitate communication, and promote entrepreneurship. Min-E Access acknowledges and emphasizes the Nexus approach to sustainable development, highlighting the centrality of access to modern energy systems as a synergistic investment in not only electricity access, but also in education, clean water access, health, food security, gender equality, entrepreneurship development, poverty eradication, and environmental protection.
The partnership has already electrified three pilot schools in isolated rural areas in Bolivia through solar PV (photovoltaic), Pico-PV, clean cooking, and solar thermal technologies, as well as local capacity building and entrepreneurship development. One of the key aspects of the proposed overall strategy of Min-E Access is the empowerment of local schools as the basis for further expansion of electricity access in rural communities. Schools represent centres where local community members can be trained, where equipment can be stored securely, and where the overall concept of minimum electricity access through renewable energy technologies can be demonstrated. Furthermore, schools provide the most promising sites where the nexus between energy and other development aspects can be demonstrated. In particular, by powering rural isolated schools, immediate synergies can be realized with respect to education, water, health, gender, food security, and poverty eradication.
The initiative was started with a preliminary phase from 2011 to 2013, covering several pilot countries in the three major developing regions Africa, Asia and Latin America. These efforts were part of the national assessments being undertaken for the post Rio+20 programme. Drawing from the resulting experiences and consultations with international, national, and regional partners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, a systematic approach to ensure the sustainability of the initiative was defined. This led to the design of the two major modules (1) capacity building and (2) entrepreneurship development.
The first phase from 2013 until the end of 2015 resulted in the electrification of three Bolivian schools in isolated rural communities around Cochabamba. The schools were equipped with Pico-PV systems, clean and efficient cooking stoves, and in one case a solar thermal system to heat water. Furthermore, their existing but non-operational solar PV systems, which had been donated as part of a previous government programme but fell into disrepair over the years, were restored.
The general strategy of this partnership is to concentrate the efforts on schools in isolated rural areas of one single country first, in order to demonstrate the viability of a successful and effective pilot initiative, which is then to be replicated and scaled elsewhere. In Bolivia today there are more than 4,000 schools without access to electricity and the Brazilian government has already signalled its support for further activities. As more organizations and donors join the partnership and more resources are made available, the programme will be scaled-up and in a second phase from 2015 to 2024 extended to more countries that have significant shares of rural isolated populations without electricity access. A long-term successful implementation programme will allow for the second phase to reach a large proportion of the isolated rural population by 2024.
Electricity access represents an integral part of the goal to “[e]nsure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” (SDG 7) of the new Sustainable Development Goals for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. In a final phase from 2024 through 2030, DESA and other organizations will continue to scale up international cooperation on rural electrification, in order to achieve full and universal access to electricity worldwide by 2030, which is also the main goal of the Secretary-General’s SE4All initiative.
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
The preliminary phase of Min-E Access resulted in the design of two major modules that ensure the sustainability of this initiative: (1) a capacity building module and (2) an entrepreneurship development module, both to be implemented at the local level. It recognizes that the success of this partnership initiative will depend on the continuous availability of renewable energy experts living and remaining in the rural communities. Therefore, prior to the installations at the three pilot schools in Bolivia, the commissioned expert consultant conducted two highly successful training workshops in the city of Cochabamba. It built capacity in relation to the new technologies and their corresponding entrepreneurial opportunities among 44 participants from 12 different municipalities, including local technical installers and regional representatives. During the on-site installations, local school teachers were also trained in the proper operation and maintenance of the systems, greatly facilitated by the compact and simple to install (plug-and-play) nature of modern Pico-PV technology.
In the first phase of Min-E Access, training courses have been conducted in a number of selected countries (including Liberia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Bolivia) with the support of partners of the initiative. Specialized “Training Tool Kits”, specifically designed for trainers and equipped with the technical solar energy (Pico-PV) components necessary to demonstrate and simulate the overall energy system and its use in rural areas were designed and assembled. To date 20 of these tool kits have been purchased and half of them already deployed for training courses in Africa, with the rest being scheduled for distribution through the end of 2015 in Latin America and Asia.
Coordination mechanisms/governance structure
The results of the preliminary phase of Min-E Access pointed towards the need to promote coherence, coordination, and information dissemination at the global and national levels, with respect to technological and entrepreneurial capacity building strategies. DESA has been leading a comprehensive effort to survey and map activities being conducted at the national level by international organizations on rural energy access. Furthermore, a detailed assessment of the global situation with respect to rural electrification has been conducted, which defined barriers that need to be overcome and outlined actions that could accelerate the process. In addition, an Expert Group Meeting was conducted in August 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York City on the barriers and challenges for rural energy access, followed by a Global Conference on the Nexus approach to sustainable development, rural energy access, and poverty eradication in Ethiopia in December 2013. With participation from governments, international and regional organizations and associations, financial institutions, NGOs and civil society, and the private sector, it brought together more than 250 participants, representing about 40 different countries. The conference provided an open platform for a total of 27 organizations for knowledge sharing and the exchange of best practices in sustainable rural electrification.
DESA has been providing leading support in this global effort by promoting coherence and integration in the implementation process at the international level and by facilitating the exchange of knowledge and best practices in rural electrification and sustainable development. Min-E Access recognizes that the success of this partnership initiative will depend on the continuous availability of renewable energy experts living and remaining in the rural communities. Partners will therefore provide capacity building and technology transfer, based on entrepreneurial skill development. The partnership activities will continue to include capacity and entrepreneurship development, as well as technical cooperation, especially for the maintenance and installation of the systems, and will also look at the issue of up-scaling.
Adama Science & Technology University (Ethiopia)
Adolescence Education Programme (India)
Asantys Systems (Germany)
ASTURS - Inti Wasi (Peru)
Beta engineering (U.S)
Clean Energy Development Bank (Nepal)
Cultivando Agua Boa (Brazil / Paraguay)
Dalarna University (Sweden)
Electriciens Sans Frontieres (France)
Empower Generation (U.S.)
Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness (Nepal)
Government of Bolivia - Direccion General de Energias Alternativas /
Vice Ministerio de Electricidad y Energias Alternativas
Horn of Africa (Africa)
Institute for Decentralized Electrification, Entrepreneurship and Education (Germany)
Instituto Tecnológico de Energías Renovables (ITER) Tenerife (Spain)
Itaipu Binacional / Federal Government of Brazil
Itaipu Binacional / Government of Paraguay
Menschen für menschen (Germany)
National University of Engineering (Peru)
Orb Energy (India)
Palma Interface (India)
Reiner Lemoine Institut (Germany)
Rural Education and Development (READ) Global (U.S.)
SESCA: Société d'Energie Solaire du Cameroun
Solar Age Namibia
Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS)
University of Applied Sciences, Ulm (Germany)
University of California, Berkeley (U.S.)
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs