SMEFunds, an international NGO working in Africa to alleviate poverty by working in the sustainable energy domain, has been nominated for a 2016 Zayed Future Energy Prize.
SMEFunds facilitates funding for small and medium-size enterprises to provide energy access to the poor and disadvantaged. The company has started a number of projects. One of the most promising is GoSolar Africa.
GoSolar Africa aims to provide solar power systems to households by forging financial and technical partnerships. The company installs rooftop solar power systems, which provide households with sustainable and consistent access to power.
Last year, GoSolar Africa announced plans to invest $2 million in Nigeria to set up 3 GW of rooftop solar power capacity in Nigeria, where millions are still not connected to the national grid. The initiative plans to address the energy crisis in Nigeria and plans to target 1 million residential homes in West Africa by 2017.
Another initiative of SMEFunds is 1-WattSolar. GoSolar Africa and 1-WattSolar work in partnership to help homeowners adopt rooftop solar power systems. As it is difficult for homeowners to purchase such systems directly, 1-WattSolar offers free installation of solar power systems with a flexible rental or pay-as-you-go plan.
SMEFunds is also working to provide cookstoves to households with an aim to reduce their dependence on wood and other harmful fuels. Over 200,000 KIKE Green Cookstoves have been sold by SMEFunds across Africa. The cookstove was introduced by the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves and has been adopted by local governments of many states in Nigeria.
SMEFunds is also working on a proprietary technology to economically convert waste-based biomass into cellulosic ethanol using a combination of thermal, chemical and biochemical techniques. The technology yields 200 litres of ethanol per tonne of biomass fibre.