Smart Villages News 151 – Energy, Finance and the World Food Prize

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On October 19th, Nigerian Akinwumi Adesina was awarded the 2017 World Food Prize in Des Moines. The prize honours the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

Why did Adesina win? The current president of the African Development Bank has been recognised for his efforts to transform African agriculture in the last two decades to increase productivity, in roles with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and as Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria. Perhaps the most innovative intervention was the establishment of an e-wallet system for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, for the direct delivery of subsidized electronic vouchers for inputs to the farmers’ mobile phones. These vouchers can be used like cash to purchase fertiliser and other agricultural inputs directly from agro-dealers. The system, the first of its kind, aimed at reducing corruption in the distribution of fertiliser subsidies, since previously only a small proportion of the funds allocated was actually reaching farmers. The success of the e-wallet system in Nigeria, credited to benefit 40 million farmers, inspired the creation of similar initiatives in Kenya and Uganda.

And the spirit of innovation has spread further. The call by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) to submit proposals for digital innovations promoting financial inclusion in the African continent resulted in over 200 responses. While Kenya comes first in the number of submitted proposals, 25 other African countries also participated in the call. About half of the innovations addressed a specific market sector, with small and medium enterprises and farmers topping the list.

While the value of these innovations is unquestionable, it is important to reflect on the fact that despite huge increases in the rate of penetration of mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa, less than 20% of the rural population in the continent has access to electricity, which limits their potential benefit. True progress with therefore require better integration between agricultural development and access to fair and sustainable energy sources for the rural population, who after all grow the majority of the food on the continent!

Top Stories

Dakar Workshop
Off-Grid Electricity Projects Are Starved For Funds
Despite innovative off-grid technology and high-profile initiatives, electrification in sub-Saharan Africa still trails population growth. In 2009 there were 585 million people in the region without power. Five years later, that figure had risen to 632 million, according to the latest International Energy Agency statistics. […]

Peter Fairley – Spectrum (23.10.17)India Has World’s Largest Electricity Access Deficit: World Bank
India alone has a little less than one-third of the global deficit (270 million for electricity), followed by Nigeria and Ethiopia for electricity—and the 20 highest access-deficit countries for electricity account for 80 percent of the global deficit, said a World Bank report. […]

Governancenow (31.10.17)The Story Behind The ‘Three Forgotten Villages’
Most of you reading this post know me as an environmentalist who is also very passionate about renewable energy. In the past 2-3 years, I have focused my work in areas that are ignored by majority of players in the energy sector— off-grid communities in rural centers and villages. My convictions are: first, solar lighting solutions make more socio-economic sense in villages than bulk grid infrastructure, and second, the social capital and human potential in rural areas are so vast to be ignored. I have therefore made efforts to visit as many villages as possible to learn about what can work there with solar. […]

Gideon Commey – ModernGhana (24.10.17)Minigrids In Tanzania ‘Offer Lessons’ For Electrification Of Africa
Lessons from a comprehensive study of minigrids in Tanzania could help to speed up their deployment in sub-Saharan Africa. So concludes a report from the Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organisation (TaTEDO) and World Resources Institute (WRI) on the first major survey of the country’s minigrid sector.Minigrids are small-scale electricity generation and distribution systems of less than 10 megawatts (MW). […]

Catharine Paddock – MarketBusinessNews (21.10.17)

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