ENACTing energy access for the urban poor in Freetown and Kampala

October 2020

According to demographic projections, Africa’s urban population will triple to 1.5 billion by 2050 with 84% of this rampant growth taking place in sub-Saharan Africa. Such a population boom will exacerbate the demand for services such as water and sanitation, housing, waste management and energy.

Despite international will behind the United Nations sustainable development goals, challenges remain in terms of achieving the ambitions set out in SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Lack of access to a reliable energy source is the primary barrier towards growth for many African businesses and economic sectors.

In response to these energy access challenges, UK aid, through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is providing up to £100 million to the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) programme.

Enabling African Cities for Transformative Energy Access (ENACT) is a new project within the TEA programme. This three-year project, which began in July 2020, is managed by The Carbon Trust and delivered by ICLEI Africa, with support from Energy 4 Impact. ENACT will work with local governments to create an enabling environment to provide adequate, safe, reliable, clean and affordable forms of energy to the urban poor residing in Kampala and Freetown.

By partnering with the private sector, local governments and national energy ministries, it is anticipated that the project will improve access to clean cooking and provide lighting solutions to at least 3,000 households and micro-enterprises based in these two cities. Such activity is expected to facilitate the creation of at least 2,000 jobs, 30% of these within businesses owned and managed by women.

The ENACT project builds on studies conducted in cities across sub-Saharan Africa which identified gaps in energy access, including poor quality and unreliable grid supply, as well as illegal connections to the grid. Other challenges for the project include the prominent use of inefficient lighting sources such as candles, kerosene lamps and dry cell battery torches to supplement grid power; the reliance on charcoal and firewood, and the widespread use of poor quality and inefficient cookstoves. It is envisaged that such problems can be addressed by market-led, decentralised and clean energy solutions piloted through the disbursement of grants up to £350,000 to micro-enterprises in Freetown and Kampala.

The ENACT project has three core components:

  1. Build the capacity of local governments in urban energy data collection, planning, financing, and private sector involvement;
  2. Work with the private sector to test and implement financing and business models to improve the delivery of clean energy solutions for households and micro-businesses;
  3. Share knowledge and best practice for scaling-up and replication in urban areas across SSA under the #ENACTenergy communication campaign.

Working closely with local stakeholders in Kampala and Freetown, we will develop evidence-based and pro-poor energy plans. Lessons will also be gathered to inform policy and implementation in other urban areas across sub-Saharan Africa.