The funding gap continues to restrain efforts for research and development of innovative product designs and hinders the growth of many clean cooking enterprises, which are often in the early stages of development.

Producing more power does little if people are unwilling or unable to pay for it. Earlier this year officials at Kenyan Power said that almost 1m customers who are connected to the grid have bought no power at all. In much of Africa the problem stems from botched regulations and weak states.

PAYG is lauded for making off-grid power more accessible. Unfortunately, it seems that companies have not yet figured out how to best manage their agent networks, and the high turnover among agents is becoming a big risk to growth and sustainability of the sector.

The bank's 28% lending portfolio will go towards clean energy investment funding by 2020. The move follows similar initiatives by large financial institutions such as the US$1 trillion Norwegian sovereign wealth fund - the world's largest.

52 private sector organizations — including foundations, impact funds, venture capital funds and companies — had invested in only few PAYG companies in East Africa. To attract greater capital, without creating over-exuberance and hype, the number of companies will have to increase: that would increase competition, expand the range of offerings available to customers and expand the investment pipeline for investors. One way to increase the number of companies is to encourage local entrepreneurs.

Off grid electricity production was mainly "something better than nothing" in the developing world. Now we see it as a backup against hurricanes taking down the grid, as with Tesla solar roof and Powerwall battery. The improving business cases for off grid are a contrast to much grid supply, where high voltage grid extension at a swingeing $1-6 million per mile is not involved, nor even low voltage extension at $15k-50k.

Renewable investments in developing countries fell by 50 pct in 2016, the first year after the signing of the Paris agreement. Rolling out mini-grids to secure energy access to all can lead to more than 2 gigaton of additional carbon emissions by 2030, if they are powered by diesel generators instead of renewable energy. For these reasons a “new deal” is urgently required to “Scale-up finance for climate action”, one of the two main aims of the Parisevent.

The network's calls and data costs are much cheaper than what’s offered by the big mobile operators. And the solar powered stations also charge cell phone batteries less than what’s usually charged by spaza shops or shebeens.

Innovation comes not just in the devices and infrastructure, but also in figuring out how to deliver the best service with the most impact.

Considering the high up-front investment and the need for regular maintenance, solar desalination is unlikely to be the preferred method of accessing drinking water. While more cost-effective, large capacity desalinators exist, Kopernik has observed in a pilot project a critical gap in the market for an affordable desalination solution.

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