• rogeap@ecowas.int

REACH (Renewable Energy Access Challenge) partnership

The Renewable Energy Access Challenge (REACH) partnership is dedicated to accelerating access to clean energy in the hardest-to-serve areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Since 2012, 493 million people have gained access to energy through off-grid solar products. Yet despite this incredible achievement, the world is still not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 – universal access to energy – by 2030. The biggest shortfall will be in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where almost 600 million people will be living in poverty. are projected to continue living without electricity in 2030, forcing hundreds of millions of people to remain dependent on polluting, costly and dangerous sources of lighting and energy.Off-grid solar solutions have the potential to provide clean, affordable electricity to over 65% of sub-Saharan Africans by 2030 (464 million people), but investment flows have not yet reached the scale needed to turn this opportunity into reality.

To close the energy access gap, efforts will have to be refocused on the poorest and most remote populations.

Spotlight on first access

The new Renewable Energy Access Challenge (REACH) partnership aims to extend energy access for the first time to the regions and populations most at risk of being left behind.Off-grid markets are largely non-existent in the poorest, most remote and unstable regions (FCV) – where 89% of the population that could most profitably be served by off-grid lives.These markets are the hardest to build, which means that the next 464 million people will be even harder to reach than the first 400 million and more.REACH highlights the needs of these people, with the aim of enabling them to get at least their first foot on the energy ladder.

REACH more people, faster, through collaboration

A group of leading practitioners have come together to form the Renewable Energy Access Challenge (REACH) partnership. We can move faster by drawing on each other’s strengths – if we don’t, we risk adopting a fragmented, ad hoc approach with marginal impact. Together, we can leverage the collective experience and track record of market leaders, and reach regions and customers at risk of being left behind in the transition to clean energy.

The REACH partners each have in-depth experience of the basic elements required for market activation, underlined by the collective progress we have made over the last decade. These skills include :

  • Market knowledge
  • Capacity-building – including technical assistance – for all stakeholders (companies, financiers and governments)
  • Consumer awareness and protection
  • Political and regulatory support to create an enabling environment
  • Access to financing and investment risk mitigation
  • End-user subsidies to bridge the affordability gap

Closing the investment gap

Closing the investment gap will be essential to reach those living in emerging markets and achieve SDG7. Currently, off-grid energy investments are largely concentrated in established, low-risk markets that are more attractive to investors. Meanwhile, nascent markets in SSA with low electricity tariffs attract only a fraction of global investment in the off-grid solar sector. Low-income communities in these underserved markets are set to continue to suffer most from the impacts of climate change and, unless something changes, to benefit least from global capital allocated to renewable energy and climate-smart investments.