During the opening ceremony, Frank Wouters, Deputy Director-General of IRENA, and Ernesto Macias, President of ARE, reiterated how constant innovation in the field, rapid growth of the market and economies of scale have led to a drop in the prices of the systems’ components. Renewable energies have become commercially more viable than fuel powered systems and nowhere has this had a bigger impact than in remote areas of developing countries.
Dipal Chandra Barua, Co-founder of Grameen Bank, highlighted how the transitioning from a fossil fuel-based economy to a greener energy sector via off-grid systems will not only contribute to poverty alleviation and reduce environmental degradation, but will also ensure the creation of green jobs in remote areas.
Other speakers also stressed how the establishment of policies focused on off-grid renewables will be key to create sustainable markets, as will be the setting of concrete and reachable sustainable electricity-access targets, and the creation of institutions and bodies dedicated to the sector.
Philip Mann, of the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme, pointed out another essential step: power sector reforms. These reforms are increasingly focussing on re-regulation rather than on the classical de-regulation, since there is the need for a legal framework. Alassane Agalassou, Director of Rural Electrification at AMADER Mali, also spoke about developing reflective tariffs, smart subsidies and incentives to consolidate the off-grid renewable energy market. It is also important that donors and the banking sector jointly develop long-term low interest loans.