22-23 May 2012
By way of background, Omega has organised conferences on both microfinance and on renewable energy. However, they have been separate conferences and the original intention was that our 4th Annual conference would focus on microfinance. The response to that conference – especially internationally – has been excellent. (See below the number of microfinance organisations who have responded. It is also being supported by the South African Treasury.)
What has brought about the exciting change in the focus of this event has been the involvement of the EU Renewable Energy Unit called AFRETEP. Umberto Tromboni, the head of AFRETEP, of which Omega is a partner, said that: “AFRETEP wishes to collaborate with Omega in creating a microfinance/renewable energy conference. So we would be very pleased to encourage our African partners and contacts to attend the conference. We have contacts in more than 40 African countries.” Umberto Tromboni goes on to say that: “We really think microfinance could help our rural-electrification development task. This is the reason we included a session on IF in the last workshop. But other reasons are:
It has been shown that rural development (economic, cultural, health and social) is directly linked to rural electrification.
But rural electrification by grid connection is technologically difficult and often economically prohibited, so off-grid solutions by renewable energy is the only way”.
The AFRETEP project and its African network of partners have had several discussions about renewable energy sources and the tools which can help decision-makers in choosing the most suitable.
There is no question that renewable energy projects in the electrification of rural areas is more likely to be assisted by microfinance funding. Small projects in a low-income context are not encouraging to international funders or banks.
On the other hand, a small project in a low-income context dealing with local development, in our view belongs in the world of microfinance.
Aside from making contact with major microfinance funders who are seriously interested in investing in renewable energy projects, the programme will include eight 15-minute sessions for project presentations.