Unlocking New Frontiers: SESA’s European Study Programme Explores Smart Energy Solutions in Three Vibrant Cities

Unlocking New Frontiers: SESA’s European Study Programme Explores Smart Energy Solutions in Three Vibrant Cities

From 8-13 May, SESA hosted the European Study Programme in three cities across Europe – Cascais (Portugal), Barcelona (Spain), and Gothenburg (Sweden). Organised by ICLEI Europe, the European Study Programme is the first part of the peer-to-peer exchange and took representatives from Living Labs from eight of the SESA countries to Europe.

The programme allowed the delegation to visit these three cities with the objective of learning more about smart energy solution technologies and their deployment in a different context. It offered as well, the opportunity to exchange with European cities and businesses on the possible ways of cooperating with a large ecosystem of actors including private sector, public sector, academia and the local communities. The ultimate goal of the study programme was to provide participants with the opportunity to learn from a wide range of experiences, which could help inspire possible developments of the Living Labs and support in their further development.

Beginning in Cascais (Portugal) from 8-9 May, the delegation met with João Dinis, Head of Climate Action Department at Cascais Ambiente to discuss the city’s approach to reach climate neutrality and the role that renewable energy solutions play in this ambition. Examples of climate mitigation measures included Cascais SDG 2030 and the city’s Carbon Neutrality Route 2050, the first municipal commitment to carbon neutrality following the country’s commitment to climate change. The delegation had the opportunity to visit sites employing these policies in action at the NOVA School Business of Economics as well as around the city.

Key to Cascais’s success here has not only been the technologies themselves, but rather a focus on community engagement. In the city’s Action Plan for Climate Adaptation, the number one measure focused on creating stakeholder awareness and the challenges faced in Cascais in implementing renewable energy solutions are not unlike those faced in SESA’s living labs.

For Edem Foli, Programme Manager at Nelson Mandela University: uYilo e-Mobility Programme, such exchanges drew parallels to her own experience in South Africa. “Engaging with community stakeholders is so important in getting your project off the ground. I was very surprised and relieved to learn that local governments in Barcelona and Cascais are facing similar challenges, getting buy-in from the community to accept these new technologies and convincing them of their advantages, in both an economic and social respect. This study programme created the opportunity to exchange with my peers, both in Europe and Africa in developing strategies to address this challenge.”

 This sentiment was echoed by Ibtihal Ait Abdelmoula, Research and Development Engineer, Head of Digitalization at Green Energy Park in Morocco, “The carbon neutral smart city was not a concept only discussed in technological and research centres but also a real practical roadmap adopted by local municipalities and citizens. I believe that this is the main challenge that we need to overcome in our African living labs. Technology is not the issue. What we really need to improve is the local engagement of communities and stakeholders. I believe that Africa is actively working on that and is on its way to unlock its full potential.”

From 10-11 May, the delegation moved on to Barcelona (Spain) where they met with SESA project partner, LEITAT, one of the leading technology management entities at the Spanish and European level, working closely with SESA’s Ghanaian living lab developing waste to energy solutions. This was complemented by a visit to Vallès Circular, a centre at the forefront of processes for transformation and evolution towards a more sustainable economic model which promotes public-private collaboration and focuses circular economic principles, transforming waste into energy.

This part of the study programme put a focus on the technology and its relation to the circular economy, which opened discussions around what makes for a sustainable economic model and how to meaningfully engage in public-private partnerships. The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with the Municipality of Barcelona to learn and discuss how, for example, the city engages with the private sector to help accelerate the city’s energy transition.

The final stop in the study programme brought the delegation north to Gothenburg (Sweden), a city whose innovative renewable energy solutions are most notably related to its district heating system. Here, discussions with Gothenburg’s Climate Transition Office, the city’s energy company, Göteborg Energi, and Johanneberg Science Park (JSP) revealed how the city is approaching the current energy transition from a municipal, business, and research perspective. Bringing innovative technologies into focus, the programme then had the opportunity to move onto JSP’s HSB Living Lab, a sustainable housing system.

The living lab is a great example of collaboration between industry, the city, and academia that tests smart energy solutions in a real context and in doing so, helps accelerate the energy transition. The final element of the time spent in Gothenburg focused on synergies drawn between SESA’s Sister project ENERGICA and SESA’s living labs, and a session hosted by mentors from SESA’s Incubator program at Smart Innovation Norway, to discuss business models and draw synergies between the living labs at the SESA project partner RI.SE Institute.

Exchange programmes such as this open the door for a two-way dialogue. On the value of peer-to-peer exchange and how the SESA project can help the City of Cascais reach its carbon neutrality goals. João Dinis contributes, “The SESA project engages the best stakeholders from different regions that share the same challenges that we do. The geographical and social context may be different, but our goal remains the same. It’s valuable for us to learn how different regions have approached smart energy solutions in their communities, and it presents an opportunity for us to share our own.”

Subsequent opportunities for exchange will involve SESA’s European Cities having the opportunity to visit the project’s living labs and discuss smart energy solutions in a different context, the most forthcoming opportunity taking place in October 2023 in Ghana for SESA’s next Regional Event.

SESA Call for Entrepreneurs 2023 is officially launched!

SESA Call for Entrepreneurs 2023 is officially launched!

Harnessing the scaling and replication potential of sustainable energy solutions in Africa: “2nd SESA Call for Entrepreneurs 2023” is open.

Munich, May 2, 2023 – Siemens Stiftung on behalf of the Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) consortium, invites local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania to apply for the “2nd SESA Call for Entrepreneurs 2023”. The call is looking for entrepreneurs with expertise in addressing the continent’s energy access challenges with a focus on rural and off-grid communities. Enterprises can apply for the call till 25 June 2023. Women-led businesses are particularly encouraged to apply.

The SESA project, funded by the European Commission is operative across nine African countries with local and international partners, testing and validating sustainable energy solutions and business models that are replicable and generate local opportunities for economic development.

This call focuses on selected technologies that have been tested by SESA partners and presents promising opportunities to scale up by local entrepreneurs in the four countries. Interested enterprises should be operational in domains such as solar irrigation technologies in rural communities, waste-to-energy solutions to improve clean cooking, and solar cold chain technologies for both peri-urban and rural communities among other related technical fields.

Applicants need to have been registered and operationally active in one of the four focus countries for at least three years with proof of revenue generation. Additionally, each country has a detailed list of eligible technology domains.The eligibility criteria and the call details can be found here.

Each selected enterprise will receive between €50,000 to €100,000 for the design, implementation, and evaluation of submitted replication projects via service agreements. After selection, they will have the opportunity to participate in the SESA Incubator Programme run by SESA partner Smart Innovation Norway (SIN). The programme includes mentorship, coaching, and access to networks of industry experts and potential investors.

“This call will enable private sector players in Africa, and Tanzania in particular, to address some of their current technical and financial challenges and reach out to thousands of smallholder farmers, small businesses and energydeprived communities in Africa with renewable energy solutions and in turn boost green jobs and rural economies,” explains Sisty Basil, Executive Director of ELICO Foundation and SESA partner in Tanzania.

The four selected companies of the first SESA call Econexus Ventures Limited, Nastech Power Solutions, Smart Energy Enterprise (SEE), and GREEN Solar Academy have completed the first SESA Incubator Programme and are actively engaged with SESA partners to test and validate sustainable energy solutions as well as promising business models in Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa, the focus countries of the first call.

“At SESA, we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs and innovators who are developing solutions that can transform the African energy landscape,” said Magdalena Sikorowska, SESA Project Coordinator, and ICLEI Europe representative. “Through SESA, we are building a community of innovators that can work together to solve some of Africa’s biggest energy access challenges.”

The call for entrepreneurs is open until 25 June 2023, and applications can be submitted here.

The SESA team will host a Question & Answer session on 17 May 2023. Interested companies can register for the virtual session here. 

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. Through several local living 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 de-centralised renewables (solar photovoltaics), innovative energy storage systems including the use of second-life electric vehicle batteries, smart micro-grids, waste-to-energy systems (biomass to biogas), climate-proofing, resilience and adaptation, and rural internet access. 


About Smart Innovation Norway (SIN)

Smart Innovation Norway is a non-profit research and innovation company, which works for the green shift and new sustainable jobs. We help companies and municipalities with applied research, innovation, and commercialization in sustainable energy, applied artificial intelligence, digital entrepreneurship, smart cities, and social and behavioural innovation. The company is among the foremost in Norway in EU research. SIN creates sustainable social and industrial development through internationally applied research and innovation with an emphasis on techno-economic models and analysis, business intelligence, prosumers, and user flexibility. SIN holds key competencies in relevant and applied R&D, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, and process development to cater for new businesses based on research results generated. SIN has long traditions of creating energy-related spin-offs around new products and technologies. 

About Siemens Stiftung (SS)

As a non-profit foundation, Siemens Stiftung promotes sustainable social development, which is crucially dependent on access to basic services, high quality education, and an understanding of culture. To this effect, the Foundation’s project work supports people in taking the initiative to responsibly address current challenges. Together with partners, Siemens Stiftung develops and implements solutions and programs to support this effort, with technological and social innovation playing a central role. The actions of Siemens Stiftung are impact-oriented and conducted in a transparent manner. The geographical focus of its work is on regions in Africa and Latin America as well as Germany and other European countries. 

SESA launches its Capacity Building Programme first course

SESA launches its Capacity Building Programme first course

The first course in SESA’s Capacity Building Programme is now available! The online programme, designed to close the knowledge gap around renewable and smart energy solution technologies, aims to help participants understand what alternative technologies exist and how they work.  

Case studies and examples relevant to the African context make up the foundation of the courses, but the programme is open to all participants who want to enter the world of sustainable energy, seek alternatives to traditional energy sources and opt for sustainable development in both urban and rural contexts.  

The Programme’s first course, Solar Energy, is now available through the NUA Campus platform and dives into the basics of electricity and energy produced through solar irradiations, the current technological options available, and key elements to consider when planning and setting up a solar energy installation. Following the course’s eight lessons and informative videos, additional readings, and a webinar to discuss with experts, a quiz will test your understanding of the material. 

Specifics on the lessons within this course include: 

  • Basics of electricity and solar energy 
  • Differences between different equipment 
  • Suitable conditions and key factors to plan a solar installation 
  • Ensuring the best performance of the equipment installed 
  • Possible applications for solar energy 

The course is self-paced, so participants can go through each lesson at a schedule that best fits their needs and upon successfully completing the course, participants will receive a certificate. 

Subsequent courses will be added to the programme over the coming six months and will cover a range of technologies investigated within the scope of the SESA project including clean cooking, waste to energy, electric mobility, second life EV batteries, smart micro-grid and system integration, and rural internet access. 

To learn more, access SESA’s Capacity Building Programme through the NUA Campus here 

Africa-Europe SESA incubator program is looking for regional mentors in Africa!

Africa-Europe SESA incubator program is looking for regional mentors in Africa!

Target countries: Ghana, Malawi and South Africa

5 mid-stage start-up companies will be financially supported under European Union (EU) funded SESA project through its incubator programme.There is an opening for up to 2-3 regional mentors who have experience working with start-ups in the focus countries.

5 start-ups will focus on:
Solar solutions for irrigation and buildings, Waste-to-energy solutions and off-grid energy solutions with battery storage (it would be a big plus if mentors have experience in these focus areas).

Mentoring duration:

March 2023- June 2024 with defined number of sessions which will be agreed between selected mentors and the startups. Mentors will collaborate with European mentors for guiding start-ups.

Compensation & mentoring plan:
This will be clarified during mentor interviews. This is not a permanent position but a time-limited one. Why apply: Visibility in multiple African countries and in Europe, access to a wide European & African network of experts, mentor promising energy-related start-ups and work in a top awarded EU-AU collaboration projects.

Expected competencies of mentors:

  • Previous experience on mentoring Start-ups.
  • Ability to deliver hands-on-support.
    Positive attitude, open-mindedness, strong communication and presentation skills, and ability to influence and inspire.
    Have extensive networks (both local and regional) in the energy sector and with potential investors.
    Added advantage of having domain specific knowledge in areas like sales, strategy or marketing.
    Ability to communicate both in English and local languages.

How to apply

Please send your interest and CV via email to Sanket Puranik

The Call for Entrepreneurs results 2022 are in!

The Call for Entrepreneurs results 2022 are in!

The SESA Call for Entrepreneurs 2022 was a great success, with many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana, Malawi, Morocco, and South Africa applying with their innovative Productive Use of Energy (PUE) solutions. The official results from the competition can now be found in an infographic below, which provides an overview of the applicants by country and sector.

The winners of the competition are set to receive funding ranging from €50,000 to €70,000 per business over 18 months. This funding will be used to validate selected proof of concepts and business models for upscaling. Starting at the end of February 2023, they will also join the SESA Incubator Programme, where they will benefit from tailored growth support, capacity building, and mentoring. This programme aims to prepare the winners for follow-on funding and to strengthen the financial sustainability of their enterprises. In addition, they will be able to leverage the diverse expertise, experience, and networks of the consortium partners.