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Abu Dhabi, U.A.E — Key stakeholders from the off-grid renewable energy sector — including policy makers, the private sector, financiers, and development institutions — will gather in Nairobi, Kenya from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 2016, to push forward the global off-grid agenda. The third International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC), organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), aims to improve electricity access by scaling up off-grid renewables.

“Achieving 100 per cent electricity access by 2030 will require the pace of electricity expansion to nearly double – but this has never been more possible,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “Dramatic cost reductions in recent years have made renewable technologies the most economic option for off-grid electrification — even cheaper than diesel-fired generation or kerosene-based conventional lighting in majority of contexts. Off-grid renewables can spur socio-economic growth while also contributing to multiple Sustainable Development Goals.”

Today, roughly 15 per cent of the world’s population lives without electricity and many more live without reliable access. Experts at the last IOREC, held in Manila in 2014, underlined that off-grid renewables offer a cost-effective, clean, and reliable option to expand electricity access in rural, peri-urban, and island contexts. To achieve this, there must be a holistic approach towards energy access — taking into account water, agriculture, health, telecommunication, and education.

“A growing number of governments, businesses and individuals are recognising the potential of off-grid renewables as a solution to energy access issues,” said Mr. Amin. “In 2015, USD 276 million was invested in the off-grid solar sector alone, a 15-fold increase over 2012. We now must further accelerate off-grid renewable energy deployment, not just for access, but for economic prosperity and poverty eradication.”

IOREC 2016 will focus on four overarching themes: stand-alone systems for rapid expansion of electricity access; technology innovation to unlock new opportunities; mini-grid development to meet growing demand; and socio-economic benefits of off-grid renewable energy system deployment. Participants will share experiences and best practices on the design and implementation of enabling policies, tailored financing schemes, innovative business models, and technology applications to boost off-grid development.

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In parallel to the conference, ARE will organise an exhibition for the private sector to showcase renewable energy projects and products. IOREC also takes place directly following the SEED Africa Symposium (Sept. 28-29), an international forum to stimulate growth of social and eco-entrepreneurship in Africa.