Energy Access COVID-19 Relief Summit

The Covid-19 pandemic represents a massive shock for societies and economies around the world and threatens to reverse the enormous progress that off-grid energy companies have made in bringing power to 470 million people in the last decade. The pandemic especially jeopardises the survival of many micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) companies that are essential for the energy access ecosystem in the short and medium term.

To assess the pandemic’s impact on the sector and to develop a coordinated response,  ARE and GOGLA in partnership with AMDAESMAPGDCSEforALL and the Clean Cooking Alliance, and with the support of GET.invest, a European programme hosted on the multi-donor platform, implemented by GIZ, and supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria, joined forces to bring together a multitude of relief providers, financing experts, sector leaders, enterprises as well as philanthropies and public sector stakeholders at the Energy Access Covid-19 Relief Summit.

The virtual two-day event, taking place from 15-16 July, united more than 1,200 energy access representatives in a series of presentations, moderated panel discussions and personal meetings, stressing the sector’s role in (re)building sustainable, resilient communities and economies.

Speakers at the summit highlighted the significant impacts of Covid-19 on companies’ operations and their customers’ lives. While businesses have adapted quickly, finding innovative ways to serve customers and respond to reduced household incomes, the sector and its customers urgently need support in all shapes and sizes. More than half of the sector’s businesses indicated they will need short-term financial relief. Next to immediate financial relief and technical assistance, speakers also called for medium- and long-term initiatives, including new partnerships with governments, commercial investors and neighboring sectors such as agriculture, education and health, carefully designed demand-side subsidies and result-based financing programmes.

While the pandemic is reversing decades of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, the energy access sector stands ready to contribute to a lasting recovery for communities and economies. By improving access to reliable electricity, modern appliances and clean cooking solutions, the sector is helping to power health clinics, reduce air pollution, create and retain jobs, and support livelihoods. The event reinforced the opportunity represented by the current crisis: to transition into a future where a resilient and diverse energy sector, with a healthy mix of international and domestic actors including SMEs as well as financiers, delivers clean and affordable energy to domestic, social and productive users. This can, however, only be achieved if businesses and their consumers receive the support they need right now.  

For the event organisers and partners, the summit confirmed the potential of digital tools to complement or in some cases even replace physical meetings during and beyond Covid-19, allowing participants from 104 countries to participate in different session formats, ask questions during panel discussions, vote in live polls and connect in one-on-one meetings during the GET.invest Matchmaking session.