The Covid-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a tremendous impact on operations worldwide. Although business is anything but normal in these turbulent times, at REEEP we have been working at full capacity from home since March 15th. Our primary goal during this time is to safeguard the health and safety of our staff, partners and beneficiaries, while ensuring that all of our projects receive our full attention and support. Taking into account the differing circumstances of each initiative, we have developed program-specific special measures to respond to the pandemic.
To provide much-needed technical support to our enterprise partners, the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN) has developed a 3-step approach of Webinars, Virtual Clinics, and tailored 1-1 advice in line with PFAN’s core expertise around the areas of developing bankable projects and enabling access to finance. In this specific case, the focus is on business continuity, enabling access to special Covid-19 Relief Funds and financing facilities from investors and donors, and supporting rescheduling and renegotiation of existing facilities.
The Covid-19 response has been designed as a modular approach to ensure that all steps will have specific outcomes and benefits for the project developer or business owner, so even if the project or business is not selected for the last step, they will still benefit from the support offered by the Virtual Clinics.
In addition, PFAN is working with GET.Invest to jointly compile a regularly updated list of Covid-19 response initiatives (relief funds, useful information, and other resources) which might help supporting businesses through these uncertain times. Please visit the up-to-date list here (excel file download).
Meanwhile, the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is moving forward as planned with its first expansion into Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mozambique, as well a second round of financing in Zambia. Recognizing that this support is urgently needed, REEEP and the Nordic Environment Finance Company (NEFCO) are working hard to keep our timeline for opening the BGFA1 Call for Proposals in September.
At the same time, Covid-19 is likely to have an immediate and potentially severe impact on off-grid Energy Service Providers (ESPs) and their customers. In Zambia, where REEEP is already supporting over 150,000 energy services via the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia (BGFZ), REEEP has worked together with Sweden to develop a package of response measures designed to minimize economic stress and keep the lights on for customers, while providing a much-needed buffer to energy companies and their employees.
To help us and our partners keep abreast of impacts as they happen, REEEP’s data team has been busy building tailored Covid-19 Intel Dashboards tracking trends in energy usage and behavior among customers in Zambia, particularly focusing on those correlated to Covid-19 response measures and events in the country. This analysis is crucial in helping our programme teams understand the risk exposures of BGFA partners and tailor support as needed.
Sweden, BGFA’s funder, has also approved the beginning of the market scoping phase in Uganda which is commencing immediately, with support from locally-based sustainable energy experts.
The Southern African Renewable Energy Investment and Growth Programme (SOARING) has gone digital to prevent virus spread by replacing the in-country stakeholder engagements with virtual meetings and workshops.
The Austria-Nepal Renewable Energy Blended Finance Facility project is busy preparing the setup of the Credit Guarantee Facility with NMB Bank in Kathmandu. Field activities in Karnali Province are on hold for the time being, but preparatory work is continuously being conducted to continue the missions as soon as national travel restrictions are lifted in Nepal.
During this challenging time, REEEP remains committed to supporting low and middle-income countries accelerate markets to provide clean, sustainable energy for all.