SESA First General Assembly: Creating together opportunities for economic development and social cohesion in Africa

SESA First General Assembly: Creating together opportunities for economic development and social cohesion in Africa


The past 25-28 October, 2022 the SESA consortium hosted its first General Assembly and Regional Event. 

The visit took place in Nairobi and Kisumu (Kenya) and gathered 46 representatives from the organisations part of the initiative. The activities were divided into three main events: The General Assembly which took place from 25-26 October in Nairobi, where partners got together in person for the first time to share achieved milestones, engage in collaborative work and define next steps for the project. The first Regional event took place from 27-28 October in Kisumu, involving the launch of the Kenya Living Lab in Katito, and finally, on the last day the Kenya Policy Dialogue addressing the topics of electric mobility and productive use of solar power. 

SESA First general assembly

The first session started with a welcome speech form SESA’s project coordinator, Magdalena Sikorowska, from ICLEI Europe. Addressed to partners attending onsite and online the coordinator described the agenda for the different activities and provided a general overview of the project main achievements for the first twelve months of the project. 

The main topic to be discussed revolved around the understanding of the local context related to each of the living labs, the goals SESA aims to achieve in this deployment phase, the correct way to measure the Key performance indicators and setting a start point for the data collection coming from the project’s results. 

After the introduction, each work package leader gave a resume of the actions, activities and milestones reached so far. The first work package, Toolbox and evaluation, led by Cenex Netherlands, provided a description of the subtasks regarding the SESA toolbox, which is in progress and in a phase of identification of the contents, review process and official approval before uploading to the platform. Furthermore, the corresponding InfoSpots implementation is underway. The leaders made a call for all the work packages to develop and contribute to the contents. 

For the second work package, Capacity building, city-to-city cooperation, and professional development, led by ICLEI Africa, some doubts and questions were raised regarding the capacity building tasks, during the breakout sessions programmed during the assembly more detailed discussions around the topics were clarified. Regarding the third work package: Technical and business partnerships, models and implementation plans, led by Smart Innovation Norway, the discussion around business models and plans was focused around the specific support needed for technical solutions/technology for the living labs, and encouraged the participants to share among their networks the Call for Entrepreneurs. 

For the fourth work package, Comparative demonstration and replication actions, led by Blekinge Institute of Technology, questions around the technical support were raised. The discussion surrounding the proposal for the country theme for the upcoming replication call, and updates on the implementation plans and set up of regional platforms, and the living documents around the demonstration sites. 

Regarding the fifth work package, Scale-up, bankability, commercialisation, and institutionalisation, led by Technische Universitat Berlin, raised some questions regarding policy dialogues, processes and suggestions. For the sixth work package: Exploitation and Dissemination, led by F6S, updates on the dissemination and communication strategy and deployment were shared with the consortium, updates on specific KPIs and gathering questions for the workshop on how to effectively communicate with SESA’s stakeholders were gathered. 

For the seventh, eighth and ninth work packages, Project coordination and management, ethics and ethics requirements, the coordination shared general updates and introduced the following discussion around the living labs. 

The SESA Living Labs

For the discussion around the first batch of living labs the different local leaders of the sites shared the challenges identified and lessons learned so far. 

For the Kenya Living Lab, the main outcomes were local labour employment and skill transfer​,investment in training required to close knowledge gaps at the local level, use of prefabricated structures, the importance of site identification and due diligence cannot be overstated, supplier and vendor due diligence​, community awareness and participation​, and advocacy and interaction with local governments​. 

For the Ghana Living Lab, the main updates are planning for face-to-face workshops at regional centres, the expected academic outcomes from sustainable energy to develop and promote, and sharing of the open platform to share capacity building resources. 

For the Malawi Living Lab, the latest updates are the testing of the cooking solution and biomass testing for this. The local team emphasised the importance of the development of their cost-effective biomass cooking solution, and the benefits in improving indoor air quality, recovery of nutrients by producing secondary bio.products, and supporting local entrepreneurs and community. 

For the Morocco Living Lab, the updates shared focused on the identification of stakeholders, planning and deployment of capacity building actions, the ongoing discussion on innovative business models development with the Urban demonstration team, and the definition of the site for the solution to be deployed. 

For the South Africa Living Lab, the conversation and state of the activities was focused on the implementation guidelines for the living lab, potential business models, training for stakeholders with regional training and innovation centres established, and CO2 mitigation potential of the solution. 

The outcomes of this session were discussed in depth in a workshop session that took place the second day of the assembly where each of the partners involved in the implementation of the living labs defined KPIs, objectives and next steps. 

Working sessions

The second day of the General Assembly was focused on two main workshops. From KPIs to data collection: How to efficiently and clearly work together? Where each of the Living Lab teams spend some time defining and clarifying objectives and next steps to bring the expected results from the sites to completion. 

Afterwards, the session How to effectively use online channels to engage with SESA’s stakeholders focused mainly on SESA’s communication strategy, best practices were discussed and the consortium got the chance to explain needs and requirements for the upcoming months. 

Kenya Living Lab Launch and Peer to Peer Exchange

On the third day, the consortium travelled to Kisumu (Kenya) for the Launch of the Living Lab in Katito implemented by consortium organisation WeTu. WeTu aims to deliver sustainable and innovative solutions for clean energy, safe water and better mobility across rural Kenya.

The event started with a visit from the consortium members to the site, where the team got to know the installations and chat with the members on site.

The official launch started with the official welcome to Katito by the Chief of the local area, then an introduction of the Living Lab by Tilmann Straub, WeTu Director, followed by the speech of the Governor of Kisumu County, Prof. Nyong’o. To finalise, SESA Coordinator Magdalena Sikorowska addressed the attendees, which included members of the community as well as the SESA team. 

Kenya Policy Dialogue

The last day, the first regional event took place at the Sovereign Hotel in Kisumu. The Kenya policy dialogue is the first of the 5 policy dialogues (4 in Africa + 1 in Europe back to back with the SESA final event), planned for the project. 

The discussion focused on two main topics: Energy and Transport policy landscape in Kenya. The introduction of the productive use of solar was in charge of Madeleine Raabe, form Wuppertal Institute, followed by a panel discussion about Renewable energy and productive use, where the invites got the chance to provide an overview of the policies current state and how the SESA project could contribute to move forward.

The panel was attended by Ephren Ouma, Director Petroleum and Electricity, Kisumu CountyGovernment; Joseph Oganga, Chief Officer Energy and Industrialization, Kisumu County Government; Josephine Osengo, Communication Specialist, Practical Action and Kiragwe Mugwe, Sr. Energy Engineer, European Investment Bank. 

For the second half, the introduction to the topic of Electric, Shared mobility – Case of two-wheelers was in charge of Lakshmi Bhamidipati, Advisor – Energy and Climate at UNEP. Followed by a panel discussion on e-mobility moderated by Charles Wagura, UN-Habitat; and attended by Martin Eshiwani, Head of Unit, Road Transport Services, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure; Joseph Oganga, Chief Officer Energy and Industrialization, Kisumu County Government and Stephen Omondi WE!Hub Victoria Limited. 

The outcomes from the sessions will contribute to the setting up of future policy recommendations on behalf of the SESA consortium. Overall, the General Assembly proved to be a much needed event for partners and community, where the interactions between the project and onsite stakeholders were fruitful and provided a clearer understanding on the needs and next steps to be taken by the project. 


Calling Smart Energy Solutions in Ghana, Malawi, Morocco and South Africa

Calling Smart Energy Solutions in Ghana, Malawi, Morocco and South Africa

Siemens Stiftung on behalf of the Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) Consortium is launching its first “SESA Call for Entrepreneurs”, targeting small and medium-sized enterprises with a focus on sustainable energy solutions in Ghana, Malawi, Morocco and South Africa. Women-led enterprises are particularly encouraged to apply. 

Reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy access has been a challenge for rural communities in Africa. SESA, a European Commission-funded project, aims to test, validate and later replicate innovative solutions as well as business models to accelerate the green transition across the African continent. It was launched in October 2021 with a duration of 48 months and is operational in nine African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania.

Energy access for productive use that creates value, by increasing productivity or income, and job creation is strongly correlated with economic development in rural areas. This “Call for Entrepreneurs” focuses primarily on the Productive Use of Energy (PUE) solutions. Each of the four participating countries Ghana, Malawi, Morocco, and South Africa has developed an individual country challenge with a stronger local focus, concentrated in specific areas to address their regional dynamics.

Entrepreneurs selected by this call will receive a range of benefits including funding from €50,000 up to €70,000 per business over 18 months. Additionally, they get an opportunity to join the SESA Incubator Programme to strengthen their organisation based on their individual needs.

“The call leverages social entrepreneurs’ talents, skills, and innovations to not only address climate change but also pave the way for social and economic development in rural areas”, says Dr. Nina Smidt, Managing Director and Spokesperson of Siemens Stiftung. “Women are at the heart of this transformation. Supporting female-led enterprises enables the inclusion of vulnerable groups more at a climate risk, and in the process accelerates the realisation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

SESA partner and founder of Going Green Malawi, Ms Chikondi Khonje encourages fellow entrepreneurs: “Applying for this call provides you with the opportunity to expand your business without any stress of loan repayment. It will also give you wings to reach new heights faster by exposing you to potential business mentors, partners, and investors.”

The “Call for Entrepreneurs” launches on 26th September and will run until 20th November 2022. The SESA Incubator Programme will start in February 2023.

About Siemens Stiftung
As a nonprofit foundation, we promote sustainable social development, which is crucially dependent on access to basic services, high-quality education, and an understanding of culture. To this effect, our project work supports people in taking the initiative to responsibly address current challenges. Together with partners, we develop and implement solutions and programs to support this effort, with technological and social innovation playing a central role. Our actions are impact-oriented and conducted in a transparent manner.

About Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA)

SESA is a collaborative project between the European Union and nine African countries (Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Nigeria) that aims at providing energy access technologies and business models that are easily replicable and generate local opportunities for economic development and social cohesion in Africa.

Through several local active labs, it is expected to facilitate the co-development of scalable and replicable energy access innovations, to be tested, validated, and later replicated throughout the African continent. These solutions will include decentralized renewables (solar photovoltaics), innovative energy storage systems including the use of second-life electric vehicle batteries, smart microgrids, waste-to-energy systems (biomass to biogas), climate-proofing, resilience and adaptation, and rural internet access.

SESA launches capacity building plan: A cornerstone to support smart energy solutions projects for Africa

SESA launches capacity building plan: A cornerstone to support smart energy solutions projects for Africa

Capacity building forms a vital part of successful and sustainable climate action projects and initiatives in Africa. Understanding the context-specific capacity gaps and needs in an area can shed light on the most suitable route to take to build capacity and, in turn, ramp up the success of a project. For this reason, capacity needs assessments and capacity building planning activities are embedded in the Sustainable Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) project.  

The SESA project works to increase energy access in Africa, supporting the uptake of scalable and replicable energy access innovations that are co-developed with in-country living labs, tested, validated, and later replicated further.

The project has taken a unique and value-adding approach to capacity development as an integral part of the project. Following extensive desktop research, interviews and focus group discussions with various government officials, civil society stakeholders and SESA project partners working in the selected sites, the team is proud to announce that a SESA capacity building plan has been developed and completed.

Following comprehensive skills needs assessment on energy use conducted with representatives from both the public and private sectors, the SESA capacity building plan led by ICLEI Africa, unpacks present and future knowledge needs in the SESA project demonstration and validation site countries, namely Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Morocco and South Africa. The document capture the current capacity of the actors in the sites in supporting innovative, sustainable energy access interventions, it pinpoint the stakeholders’ desired capacity and identify the gaps in relation to sustainable energy solutions foreseen. In addition, and most importantly, the capacity building plan highlights the possible tools and resources that could be developed and/or utilised to address the capacity gaps and needs identified.

Despite some differences across countries, a common element is the strong need to raise awareness on the benefit and functioning of the different RES solutions. This is particularly important for the end users and people in the local communities where those are implemented, but also at the administrative and political level in the same areas. In all cases the delivery of materials in the local language has been indicates as mandatory in order to reach out to the local communities.

The results of this extensive work are the building blocks of the capacity-building programme, which starting from fall 2022, will dive into all the sustainable energy solutions planned in SESA, breaking down the topics into easier-to-digest small units that will be regularly published online for self-paced learning. This modular package of capacity-building tools and methodologies will be easily accessible on the SESA website and also featured at local InfoSpots, as well as collected and integrated in the SESA toolbox.

Thanks to its comprehensive outlook, the context-specific capacity building tools identified in the plan are a key piece of information that will inform not only the development of the learning tools, in a more impactful capacity building programme, but it will also guide the activities foreseen in the next years with regard to policy and business analysis.

D4.1 Five (5) Demonstration Implementation Plans and Set-up of Regional Platforms

D4.1 Five (5) Demonstration Implementation Plans and Set-up of Regional Platforms


This deliverable summarizes the on-going activities of Work Package 4 of the Sustainable Energy Solutions Africa (SESA) project (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme under Grant Agreement No. 101037141).

The SESA project involves a modular living lab demonstration action in Kenya, 4 validation demonstration projects in Morocco, Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa, and 4 replication demonstration projects in Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Nigeria. This report comprises Five demonstration Implementation Plans (for Kenya, Morocco, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa) and set up of the regional platform to satisfy deliverable 4.1.

The five implementation plans and the regional platform set up have been collated in this one report. The SESA project draws upon thematic experts from Europe and Africa from relevant fields of application to provide insights and guidance to the support co-development of the living labs. The implementation plans describe the context, need and implementation activities innovative energy solutions activities across the identified thematic areas in the different living lab locations. The identified thematic areas include:

(1) Solar energy: Kenya (test), Ghana (validation), South Africa (validation), Morocco (validation), Namibia (replication), Tanzania (replication), Nigeria (replication), Rwanda (replication).

(2) Clean cooking/ Waste to energy (Biogas for cooking): Ghana (validation), Malawi (validation), Rwanda (replication).

(3) Second life EV (Li-ion batteries) batteries: Kenya (test), South Africa (validation), Morocco (validation).

The experts involved in the development of the implementation plans will share their specific expertise and experience and provide technical advice related to feasibility, costs and benefits, and monitoring for good performance over the project lifetime. Experts will also support replicability of innovative measures. The direct involvement of international networks and initiatives will ensure a high level of visibility and replication of the innovations tested in this project.

The implementation plans have been developed to meet both environmental and social sustainability needs of their context, typically in both an urban and a rural demonstration. A brief summary of the demonstration actions follows:

Kenya: The demonstration implementation activities will be carried out at two project sites, Kisegi, a rural village in Homa Bay county, and Katito a peri-urban community in Kisumu County. Both demonstrations are solar charging hubs that houses PV modules, central Li-ion battery storage, and balance-of-system (BoS) to increase energy accessibility for a range of electrical needs within the local community.

Morocco: The demonstration implementation activities will be carried out in urban location in Marrakech and low socioeconomic rural region currently without access to grid electricity. The urban demonstrator will make 40 electric motorcycles available for use by female students. The rural demonstrator will install 10 mini grids with Li-ion battery storage for use by families in remote and energy impoverished locations.

Ghana: The demonstration implementation activities are located in the Ga North Municipal district, which is an urban settlement, and Atwima Nwabiagya Municipal Assembly, which is a rural community. The innovation tested is biogas cooking systems to improve the knowledge, skills, trust and capacity of stakeholders in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of this clean, cheap cooking technology. Fuel will be sourced from waste feedstocks.

Malawi: The living lab is located in Mchinji district, Traditional Authority Mawvere. It will provide affordable and reliable energy in one of the most energy impoverished parts of Africa where only 13.4% of the population are connected to the national electrical grid. The innovation implementation activities will involve a portable cooker, which will be fueled from compressed briquets of residual agricultural byproducts. The design will both reduce smoke emissions and provide by beneficial bio char as a waste byproduct for use in agriculture.

South Africa: The demonstration implementation activities are located in the Eastern Cape township of Alicedale and the semi-rural area KwaNonzwakazi on the outskirts of Alicedale. The demonstration innovation will include electric vehicle batteries and stationary storage applications, the demonstration will include the provision of infospots for Internet access. The off-grid community energy hubs will support a range of local community activities.

Demonstration implementation plans provide further details for all above-mentioned living labs. These plans were formulated based on identified needs from WP1, preliminary technical specifications and business models from WP3. The plans outline the concrete steps within the demonstration phase, including the impact assessments (WP1), links to the capacity development (WP2) and the adaptation of the business models (WP3).

The demonstration activities funded by Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) include the identification of services, charging and vehicle providers and models for cost reimbursement and sharing. For the demonstration actions funded through other sources, potential funding partners will be identified and steps towards implementation will be identified in Task 4.3. To support co-development of solutions, capacity building, funding and financing (SESA, WP2, 4, 5) regional platforms are set up.

Regional platforms will help organize regional teams and support partners coordinate with other relevant regional projects to maximize the potential for take-up and replication of the energy innovations tested in this project. The SESA regional platform set up is also described in this document.

The implementation plans presented in this document report on the status of the demonstration implementation as of May 31 2022. The implementation plans are ‘living documents’ and will be regularly updated during the project lifetime. In three months’ time, Task 4-2: Co-develop demonstration actions, will build upon this document as the living labs continue to evolve over the SESA project life.