New Report: Universal Energy Access, An Ecosystem Approach


Posted By: Emma Seery


New crisis, old challenges

Coronavirus is the most urgent threat to Sustainable Development Goal 7 (global access to sustainable, affordable and reliable energy.) The energy access sector is in severe crisis.

Yet, while the pandemic has gripped the world with horrifying speed, the issues it exposes and exacerbates in relation to energy access are longstanding. The global pandemic is, on the whole, deepening barriers to energy access that have existed for decades – rather than creating new ones.

Innovators confirm that the support they need now is largely the support they have been seeking for years. So positive interventions now will be a platform for longstanding and much-needed change. Optimistically, this moment of extreme danger for energy access efforts can become an important wake-up call, galvanising radical change through new approaches and thinking.


Universal energy access: challenges and progress

In recent months, Ashden has surveyed dozens of energy access enterprises and organisations across our network about the impact of the pandemic on their operations, and supported wider knowledge gathering by sector organisations such as donor body EnDev. We have layered our insights on top of our existing knowledge of these innovators, built up over years and in some cases decades, to compile this report – made possible by the support of Wallace Global Fund.

In the report we delve into the short- and long-term challenges organisations currently face – using their experiences as a lens to explore the wider question of progress towards universal energy access.



  • The COVID crisis is deepening finance barriers that energy access enterprises have faced for years. These structural barriers are particularly acute for small, indigenous enterprises
  • Action is needed that allow enterprises to survive – and continue to scale.
  • Our challenge is to think systemically – what are the big shifts needed in inclusive finance, joined up planning etc. – but link this directly back to the needs of communities.
  • The crisis presents an opportunity – and an obligation – for a radical rethink of the energy access ecosystem.
  • A new report from Ashden and Wallace Global Fund highlights three areas where big shifts are needed (understanding, inclusivity, system change).


Read the report in full here – Universal Energy Access, An Ecosystem Approach


We’ve also put together a list of organisations that are stepping up in response to the pandemic and leading the way in structuring relief for the sector.  These are some of the activities and initiatives currently being implemented, which funders may consider to help maintain an important sector in an unprecedented crisis.

Read More

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