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Businesses eye bigger role in refugee energy access

A woman from arid northern Kenya places a solar panel on the roof top of her Manyatta. file PHOTO | NMG
A woman from arid northern Kenya places a solar panel on the roof top of her Manyatta. file PHOTO | NMG 

African governments have been asked to establish structures that support the private sector engagement in meeting refugees energy needs.

The Moving Energy Initiative (MEI), a collaboration between Energy 4 Impact, Chatham House, Practical Action Consulting, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the private sector can complement government efforts to promote access to renewable energy.

“The private sector can bring in new expertise and have the incentive to improve access to energy products and services in humanitarian settings,” said MEI programme manager Laura Patel.

“Some are already providing energy solutions to low income and remote communities and we believe that their understanding of the market and how to meet customers’ needs will support the growth of local, sustainable and clean energy markets within refugee and host communities.”

The calls were made at a workshop organised by the MEI in Nairobi last week, which brought together renewable energy experts from government, the UN, NGOs and private sector.

The workshop sought to identify how the Kakuma refugee camp could benefit from improved energy access.

Also, how energy interventions could be structured to align with national energy priorities and encourage the growth of local energy markets.

The camp in Turkana, established in 1992, hosts around 168,224 refugees — the majority of whom are South Sudanese.

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