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Ethiopia: EmNEW signs agreement to seek renewable energy solutions for humanitarian operations

Empower and NRC Ethiopia sign agreement

Empower New Energy, the renewable impact investment company with offices in Oslo and Nairobi, has partnered with the Norwegian Refugee Council to seek sustainable solutions for replacing fossil fuels with renewable solar energy in Ethiopia. NRC is one of the largest international humanitarian organizations working to protect the rights of displaced and vulnerable people during crises and has provided assistance in Ethiopia since 2011.

The project, “Scaling Solar for Humanitarian Operations in Ethiopia” intends - following a 6 months feasibility study - to finance, construct and operate solar power plants for 2-3 refugee settlements in Ethiopia. In addition to NRC, EmNEW and Ethiopian developer Ethio Resources Group (ERG), the project is co-financed with a grant from Innovation Norway.

The study will also seek to evaluate the potential demand for electricity around the refugee settlements, with the aim of extending the solar distribution network from the refugee camps to neighbouring communities. The lessons learnt will also be documented and used for scaling-up the project as well and disseminated to other parties for knowledge sharing and replication.

The consortium agreement was signed early January 2020. Photo: EmNEW.

Renewable energy in a humanitarian context

The aim of the partnership-project is to deploy a business model that can make humanitarian operations green while reducing costs and supporting sustainable development in the affected regions. Today the humanitarian sector is predominantly dependent on oil fuel for electricity generation. According to a study by Chatham house in 2018, the humanitarian sector spends an estimated USD 1.2 billion yearly on diesel petrol to power generators in both remote and urban areas, as well as costs related to reparations and maintenance of the machines. Switching to clean energy solutions that are available and proven could save over USD 517 million yearly, roughly equal to 5 percent of The UN Refugee Agency´s (UNHCR) funding gap for 2017. These are savings which can be redirected to partially cover existing humanitarian gaps and improve reliability and quality of energy supply.

Refugee camp in Kakuma, Ethiopia. Ethiopia is hosting nearly 1 million refugees. Photo: International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School (IHRC)

Kakuma, Ethiopia. Photo: Chris Muturi, NRC

About NRC Ethiopia

The Norwegian Refugee Council is an independent humanitarian organization, operating in more than 30 countries. Ethiopia is Africa’s second largest refugee hosting country, hosting nearly 1 million refugees due to conflict, chronic drought and flooding. NRC Ethiopia is present in six regions, providing refugees and internally displaced people with emergency relief, contribute to durable solutions and helping them to rebuild their lives. For more info: About EmNEW

Empower New Energy is an award-winning impact investment fund manager focusing on small and medium-scale renewable energy projects in selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa. EmNEWs is the manager of Empower Invest, Europe's first renewable impact investment platform with a focus on Africa. For more info:

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