CleanStart, a joint global programme of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was launched today at a function attended by key members of the government, academia, financial sector, development sector and energy sectors. The CleanStart programme seeks to expand access to clean energy for the poor through microfinance and responsive energy value chains.
In Nepal, CleanStart aims to support 600,000 poor people and micro-entrepreneurs to have access to modern energy services through microfinance. It also seeks to build end-user confidence in the reliability of technologies chosen for lending by strengthening supply chains.
The panel discussion, while marking the rollout of the CleanStart programme in Nepal, explored issues around financing access to clean energy for the poor. Discussions centred on the necessary actions to expand the energy value chain for poor people in Nepal, with a particular focus on the role of finance. The panel was comprised of Govind Raj Pokharel, Executive Director, Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC); Ashoke SJB Rana, CEO, Himalayan Bank Ltd and Chairperson of Nepal Banker’s Association (NBA).; Bibek Chapagain, Energy Adviser, Royal Norwegian Embassy; Vijaya Singh, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Nepal and Ana Klincic Andrews, Chief Technical Advisor, UNCDF Nepal. The panel was moderated by Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Nepal.
“The key drivers to provide access to clean energy are equity and social inclusion and AEPC seeks to rectify regional disparities within Nepal” said Govind Raj Pokharel from AEPC. He continued by stating that “although this sector receives a subsidy of about €20 million, this goes towards ensuring quality of the products and services available and in generating demand among individuals at the bottom of the pyramid. This sector however still requires end-users financing. Financial institutions therefore need to focus on providing access to energy through financing schemes and products”.
“The banking community, as well as financial institutions, face significant challenges in providing access to finance to the poor especially with regards to transaction costs, lack of financial literacy among the poor and complying with regulatory issues” explained Ashoke SJB Rana, Chairperson of Nepal Banker’s Association.
Introducing the CleanStart programme, Ana Klinic Andrews CTA of UNCDF in Nepal affirmed that “CleanStart and this event seek to ‘localize’ the commitments made during Rio +20 within the Nepalese context”. During her intervention in the panel, she outlined the four main components of the programme: 1) end user financing for clean energy, 2) technical assistance for responsive energy value chains, 3) knowledge and learning and finally 4) advocacy and partnerships. UNCDF also announced that an Expression of Interest will shortly be announced, inviting Financial Service Providers and Microfinance Institutions to join the CleanStart Programme and move into the energy lending sector.
After a lively discussion from the floor Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, concluded the event stating that “CleanStart comes at a very timely moment in Nepal, and marks the beginning of a long term sustainable effort to provide access to clean energy for the poor, and we invite all development partners to join us in this initiative”.