During the week of September 26, 2016, the Gaia team travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to participate in the SEED Africa Symposium and International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition. Gaia’s team comprised of Desalegn Getaneh, Director of Gaia Association, and Wubshet Tadele, Project Gaia’s Energy & Carbon Finance Consultant.
SEED, a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy, was initiated in 2001 by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. SEED is now an inter alia of UNEP, UNDP and International Union for Conservation of Nature. The SEED Africa Symposium is an international forum with the purpose of stimulating growth of social and eco-entrepreneurship by creating an event for sharing knowledge and experience, establishing partnerships, and developing solutions across the African continent. This year’s symposium brought together 436 participants from eco-businesses, civil societies, academia and many others.
The symposium included panels and speeches, interactive sessions, dialogues, an award ceremony and exhibitions. “It was valuable experience that provided me with so much information on building a sustainable business model that I would like to use to build a clean ethanol cooking business in Ethiopia” said Desalegn. The team enjoyed meeting participants with various backgrounds in business and academia and found the experiences shared by the 22 SEED-2016 awardees inspiring, providing valuable lessons for replicating businesses in Africa.
The SEED Symposium was followed by the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference & Exhibition (IOREC).
According to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), “IOREC is the global platform for sharing
experience and best practices about design and implementation of enabling policies, tailored financing schemes, innovative business models and technology applications for stand-alone and mini-grid systems”. The conference brought together diverse sectors and participants from all over the world. The exhibition at the Conference was an opportunity to showcase products, services and projects that enthused participants.
Desalegn and Wubshet agreed that though the IOREC Conference focused on mini-hydro and solar electric power generation, it was still useful for them and provided ample opportunities to build networks and learn about IRENA. They did offer one criticism, however. “IRENA should also focus on clean cooking solutions,” they said. “This is the utmost energy need of the African continent and currently there are very few solutions.”
In spite of this, both were glad to have made the trip to Nairobi. “Attending both conferences was a wonderful and productive experience. We learned from interactive sessions and exhibition and were excited to expand Gaia’s professional network,” Wubshet said. The Gaia team will apply what they learned to the ongoing efforts to form a private clean cooking business in Ethiopia.
By Wubshet Tadele Tsehayu