Published by
Practical Action

The Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R) project, led by Practical Action and UNHCR, aims to deliver inclusive access to affordable and reliable clean energy within three camps in Rwanda. 

Using market systems development approaches the project has engaged with the private sector as a key market actor. This report shares their lessons learnt and recommendations on how to partner with the private sector to bring about the systemic changes in the market needed to deliver sustainable energy access for refugees.

Practical Action worked with two different solar companies to deliver household energy access for refugees; one an established multi-national solar home system (SHS) provider across African households with some experience in refugee contexts and reputable SHS products; the other an established Rwandan solar business breaking into a new market, looking for opportunities to test new business models for hard-to-reach customers. 

This paper compares the business models, products, services and financing mechanisms employed by the two companies and the different facilitation strategies used by Practical Action. 

At the time of writing the report it was not yet possible to determine whether the market constraints will be permanently overcome, and whether sustainable, systemic change will be achieved. There are, however, signals suggesting some interventions may be succeeding in delivering this, while others may require further adaptation.