Sumba Energy Bootcamp 2014: From an Iconic Island come Sunny Services

July 18, 2014

I passed by a chain store known for its cheap products – and there it was in their window display! A plastic dog carrying a solar lantern. I think renewable energy is starting to become mainstream…

In those parts of the world where electricity is still a luxury, 100 percent renewable energy would be the last thing on peoples’ minds. Hivos, however, sees this as a major opportunity, and the Indonesian island of Sumba is a perfect setting to put the concept into practice.

Hivos first visited Sumba in 2009 while looking for a place where we could show that access to renewable energy can alleviate poverty even in remote and isolated areas. Sumba was an ideal candidate. It is located in one of the poorest areas of Indonesia, its inhabitants are without prospects of economic advancement and the island has one of the lowest electrification rates in Indonesia.

In-depth feasibility studies on renewable energy potential, electricity demand and cost-effectiveness initiated by Hivos also showed that Sumba has a huge, unexploited potential for renewable energy that can be developed affordably.

Dubbed as ‘Sumba Iconic Island’, the initiative successfully brings together relevant stakeholders such as Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral, the Indonesian state-owned electricity company, the leaders of Sumba and many more, making it a multi-actor initiative.

The Hivos global energy team recently hosted an intensive 4-day learning and innovation process on the island, as it exemplifies our theory of change with regard to achieving 100 percent sustainable energy for all, coupled with targeted lobby and advocacy efforts at both the regional and global level.

Our objective was to leave the island with a stronger team and elaborated concept notes for each region with an action plan in the bag.

We were guided by the following questions:

  • How we can design a next generation of even better iconic initiatives elsewhere and connect them to effective international policy-making?
  • Can we find a new balance between thinking, innovation, experiments and efforts to upscale?
  • Can we speed up the rate of innovation?
  • What can we learn from our other regions to strengthen each other?

Of the ten concept notes developed, the Sunny Services pitch to have all schools and health centres in East Africa powered by renewable energy by 2030 stood out. The consequences for ordinary people would be that vaccinations are available for all, fewer women die in childbirth because proper medical equipment can be used, and teaching in ‘ICT-connected’ schools becomes an attractive career option.

The Sunny Services initiative will start kick off in one county or district per country and inspire people and governments by demonstrating what is possible so all development planning takes this on as a fully-resourced, priority commitment.

The Sunny Services initiative is only one of the gems we discovered during the boot camp. Nine more excellent ideas for Hivos were drafted and are only waiting to be realised.