Decentralised Renewables

Decentralised Renewables offer an alternative for connections to the grid. In Africa 110 million of the 600 million urban dwellers still have no access to electricity (the Conversation). “Pay-as-you-go solar systems and appliances, for example, can provide a much lower barrier to entry (as opposed to fixing the last mile to the grid, red.) Compared to the high upfront connection costs in Kenya, a 15-watt solar home system costs on average USD $9 per month for 36 months after which point the household owns its system. (the Conversation). The solution to the challenge of financing the scale-up of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) energy access lies not so much in the development of new initiatives but in the use and redirection of existing approaches for PAYG, particularly the use of credit guarantees, lines of credit, technical assistance, and investment in a “fund of funds.” (WRI).
As SmartCityStudio has discussed earlier in the posts of the platform is that cities will not become smart with technology only. The policy and finance environment is crucial to succeed in using data and technology for better analytics, for new systems and for decentralised solutions as mentioned above. National governments have a responsibility in the ambition to let smart cities thrive. According to the Innovation and Technology Foundation: “While national governments should always be involved in supporting innovation, their main goal with smart cities is to enact policies that set in motion significant shifts in how cities operate that will allow this evolution to be self-sustaining.” Additionally the international community and the private sector can acellerate implementation of decentralised renewables. End of 2016 the “Green Climate Fund agreed to become the anchor investor in a $3.5 billion debt fund for decentralised renewables proposed by Deutsche Bank AG” “Which will initially focus on Nigeria, Benin, Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya”. (Thomson Reuters Foundation News)
Picture: Kibera, Kenya, Rogier van den Berg

Infrastructure Bonds

Bonds have become a increasingly important financing instrument in the debt capital market for infrastructure projects. Until the early 2000s infrastructure finance mainly relied on equity from industrial sponsors (contracting parties that contribute to the establishment of the project) and the public sector. Since then banks and bank syndicates have become more interested in the debt side of large scale infrastructure projects. Since 2010 the share of bonds as part of total project finance has grown steadily to a 12-20%. Bonds can provide a stable long term cash flow over the lifecycle of a infrastructure project and are of interest to banks, pension funds and other investors with a long term horizon. Bonds for financing infrastructure are issued as part of Special Purpose Vehicles that are set up to finance, construct and maintain large scale infrastructure projects. Municipal bonds are debt securities that are issued by municipalities to finance its capital expenditures like highways bridges or schools. There is a bright future for bonds tapping into new capital markets to finance infrastructure for Smart Cities.
Sources: Bocconi/S.Gatti; financing infrastructure projects, Investopedia.
Picture: E class Melbourne Tram, Flickr, Bernard Spragg

Maximizing Finance for Development

From the World Bank: “A high-profile panel on maximizing finance for development, with Dr. Kim, President Kagame of Rwanda, and the CEOs of Standard Chartered, the NZ Super Fund, and the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) of India, was held at Annual Meetings. Key takeaways follow:
President Kagame pointed out that the prosperity Rwanda needs cannot come from just the public or the private sector alone, and noted that only when they work together can they maximize finance for development.
Renu Sud Karnad of HDFC, agreed that the regulatory framework is often an obstacle for private investment. She explained that IFC was a founding shareholder of HDFC, and it was a leap of a faith as HDFC had no framework when they started. Subsequently, HDFC has built the housing finance market in India and helped create housing industry standards and regulations.
Adrian Orr of NZ Super Fund, indicated that there’s a “wall” of money that wants to get into “frontier” markets, but the two can’t meet at the moment. He applauded the World Bank Group’s leadership in acting as a clearinghouse for investment opportunities and in trying to stabilize regulatory frameworks and standardize the investment procurement framework.
Bill Winters said that Standard Chartered, an investment bank founded in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, is focused on creating the facility to allow underlying businesses to grow and that their value is in catalyzing or bridging the portion of capital that allows an unfinanceable project to get financed.
Dr. Kim highlighted the imperative of maximizing finance to provide the crucial resources needed to finance the SDGs: Maximizing finance is the only chance that we have to provide enough resources to invest in infrastructure, transport, ICT, education and health and to make sure that everyone in the developing world can compete in the digital economy of the future.”
Picture: Outskirts of Addis Ababa, Rogier van den Berg