Facilitating access to solar energy through microfinance in Cameroon
This case study discusses the methodology adopted by Association des CVECA et CECA du Centre du Cameroun (A3C) and the Union des CECA et CVECA du Grand Nord (UCCGN) in piloting the Energy and Microfinance Program in Central and Northern Cameroon. The program aims to increase access to solar energy for rural people excluded from national power grids, help reduce their energy bills, improve living conditions, reduce health risks associated with the use of fossil fuels, and develop economic activities. The study reviews the approach adopted in developing a financial product dedicated to solar energy and highlights the various barriers that make access to solar energy difficult in isolated rural areas. Key lessons from the study include:
It is essential to facilitate synergies between microfinance and energy. Building strong local partnerships between MFIs and distributors of solar solutions is necessary for successful programs;
Field staff often perceives lighting and energy loans as complex and time consuming. Managing these products required a greater involvement of loan officers, in particular to coordinate orders and deliveries, support clients to install kits, and educate them in the proper use;
Need for local technical services is important, not only to promote solar solutions in the villages, but also to install kits, educate clients in the proper use of the solutions, and ensure maintenance.