NAIROBI, March 9 (Xinhua) -- African governments should explore innovative financing models to boost access to cleaner energy sources in the continent, experts said on Saturday.
The experts, who spoke at a side event during the second global session of the UN science policy business forum on environment taking place in Nairobi, said that policy reforms are key to stimulating investments in renewable energy sources in Africa.
Mohua Mukherjee, a finance expert at International Solar Alliance, said that African countries should leverage on domestic resources and foreign capital inflows to invest in cleaner energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal.
"African countries have an opportunity to mobilize funds from local sources to help leapfrog their transition to clean energy," said Mukherjee.
"Governments should encourage banks to extend low interest credit facilities to off-grid communities to enable them invest in mini-hydro schemes," she added.
Policymakers, scientists and financiers attended the side event on attaining access to clean energy in Africa held at the ongoing UN science policy business forum that is a precursor to the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly slated for next week.
Mukherjee said that Africa's private sector can supplement assistance from multilateral lenders and foundations to finance community based clean energy projects.
"Private firms can provide organized community groups the capital required to install solar or wind power but governments have a duty to act as guarantors to minimize risk of default," said Mukherjee.
Africa countries should address infrastructural and skills gap that have undermined access to clean energy among households and businesses.
Vincent Kitio, chief of urban energy unit at the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) said that investments in high voltage transmission lines and technicians are key to facilitating faster adoption of cleaner energy among households in Africa.
"The demand for clean energy in Africa has gone up but we must address gaps like inadequate infrastructure and limited skills that have undermined their access to communities in hard to reach areas," said Kitio.
He said that incentives like tax exemption on locally manufactured solar panels and wind turbines will boost uptake of clean energy in Africa.