Executive Interviews

Ify Malo, Campaign Manager, Power For All

December 2016

ify-malo-power-for-all

Could you give a brief description of your role, including the best thing about it?

I run a campaign and advocacy organization called Power-For-All whose aim is to promote decentralized renewable energy (DRE) as the quickest, easiest and most cost effective way of encouraging energy access globally. What I love about our work globally, and in Nigeria is the platform it provides through which we are changing the global energy access landscape and addressing energy poverty. We currently run our campaigns in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Sierra-Leone and we are rapidly expanding into other countries where energy poverty is endemic. My role as campaign lead in Nigeria gives me the flexibility to be both innovative and collaborative in advancing energy access and we do so by working with multi-stakeholders in government, private sector, civil society and the media to solve what can be distilled as an economic issue. With electrification rates in Nigeria still very poor, the challenge for us includes working with partners and change-makers to help drive and shape access to quick, affordable and cleaner electricity through distributed renewable energy across the country, especially in last-mile communities. The most rewarding is when we see the faces of households and communities literally light-up when they obtain electricity for the first time ever and the economic and social improvements that come with such access.

What do you think are the key challenges for alternatives in West Africa?

I run a campaign and advocacy organization called Power-For-All whose aim is to promote decentralized renewable energy (DRE) as the quickest, easiest and most cost effective way of encouraging energy access globally. What I love about our work globally, and in Nigeria is the platform it provides through which we are changing the global energy access landscape and addressing energy poverty. We currently run our campaigns in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Sierra-Leone and we are rapidly expanding into other countries where energy poverty is endemic. My role as campaign lead in Nigeria gives me the flexibility to be both innovative and collaborative in advancing energy access and we do so by working with multi-stakeholders in government, private sector, civil society and the media to solve what can be distilled as an economic issue. With electrification rates in Nigeria still very poor, the challenge for us includes working with partners and change-makers to help drive and shape access to quick, affordable and cleaner electricity through distributed renewable energy across the country, especially in last-mile communities. The most rewarding is when we see the faces of households and communities literally light-up when they obtain electricity for the first time ever and the economic and social improvements that come with such access.

Do you think there has been a shift in focus within th West Africa alterntive energy industry since the drop in oil price?

I think the shift had started to occur even before the fall of commodity prices in Oil and even in the Gas sector. I admit that the Renewable Energy sector has been slow to catch on because even in Nigeria, we have developers and installers in the renewable energy sector who have been pushing down barriers for almost 30yrs, even at a time of high oil prices. What we see now across West Africa is governments and its people seeing the benefits of this technology, particularly decentralized renewable energy, which takes lesser time to come on board. There is evidenced based data to show that decentralized renewable energy is easily more deployable and quicker to deploy. For instance, World Bank reports that fossil fuel Power plants can take a decade to come online, but rooftop solar systems can be installed within days or weeks, and mini-grids can be installed within weeks or months. When it comes to electrification, many have reached their points-of-pain, and are unwilling to wait any longer for the electricity grid to get to them. This is why renewable energy options are being explored and preferred by the millions who remain un-electrified. We just have to make it easier for people to be able to obtain access and pay for these technologies.

 

In the next five years in what direction would you like to see the alternative energy market in West Africa go?

Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone on the West African coast are at the cusp of an energy revolution. There is an increased flurry of renewable energy programs spread across thousands of communities in these countries. There is also a huge inflow of funding from the investment community, from donor finance institutions, and even governments all geared at catalyzing the renewable energy market in West Africa. This is specifically the case for the decentralized renewable energy market where several programs and project are pioneering small solar solutions, stand alone solar home systems (SHS), mini-grid solutions and wind, biomass and mini-hydro projects. We see the future of energy access across Africa (not just in West Africa) being driven by decentralized renewable energy markets; and we see our mission at Power-For-All to end energy poverty coming along quicker with these smaller off-grid solutions. This may go well beyond five years but the enabling financial, regulatory and market environments are coming together nicely to ensure that in five years, a viable market will exist for this sector.

If you were to take a music album, a book and a piece of artwork or film to a desert island what would they be?

 

This is a humorous one. For music album, it would be anything sung by Eva Cassidy. Her posthumous album “Fields of Gold” is an all time classic and contains music that sooths the soul. The book I would carry anywhere would be Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart...” another classic for the ages. For artwork, there are several because I am an avid art collector, but it would be anything sculpted by Bruce Onobrakpeya or painted by Victor Ehikamenor. Films are harder... I am not much or a TV or Movie person, but I did love and still like a lot of old classics, especially the very cheesy “Sound of Music”, it is not merely a love story, but a story on faith, family and fortune and how to manage and navigate all three.

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