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This matter cannot wait
March 2018

Education is a crucial driver of societal development. The impacts are lifelong and the relevance of education is obvious even to people who were denied access themselves. African policymakers must do more than pay lip service to the related Sustainable De­velopment Goal (SDG4).

Author: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General, SDGC/A

Water: A real game changer for our sustenance
March 2018

No natural resource is infinitive! One single common characteristic of all natural resources is that they are limited and deplete over time. Hence it is necessary to always understand the natural resource’s potential; how it could be conserved, protected, re-generated, rationalized and optimized in its use. In line with this, all extraction of resources requires attention. Although some deserve more than others due to their sensitivity and vulnerabilities related to all kinds of pressures including; population growth, climate change and other safety and sanitary issues. Water is one of the resources with paramount importance for our existence and we should care about its availability and sustainability.

Author: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General, SDGC/A

Accountability: A Call for Self-satisfaction
March 2018

Accountability is like a buzzword in today’s business culture irrespective of the business objectives. Whether it is a service, a nonprofit philanthropist or profit driven venture, they all share a common thread – a motive for a maximum level of satisfaction. It seems from the outset that the concepts of accountability and self-satisfaction are contradictory, because it is assumed oftentimes that accountability requires the existence of another party to enforce it. The whole concept of accountability is measuring performance against expected and/or agreed deliverables. Hence it could be self-initiated or carried out by a different body, but both can also happen simultaneously. However, although accountability takes different forms, the most critical is the self-driven one; which sets conviction as a milestone.

Author: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General, SDGC/A

Building from the Last Mile: Spending on Lighting and Electricity in Rwanda
February 2018

With the high cost of extend the grid well established, small individual solar systems have shown great promise in meeting the energy need of the estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide that lack access (including 600 million in Africa). However, a systematic analysis of a potential market size for existing solutions has yet to be undertaken. In particular, there is little understanding about the differential of spending ability across the population. Five dollars a month is often cited as a realistic amount for most customers to spend, but there has been spotty data to back this assertion. Fortunately, many countries have large, vetted data sets that contain the answer to this exact question in the form of living condition surveys that track consumption in many different areas, including energy products. By analyzing these data sets, it is possible to get a very rich sense of market sizes at different price points.

Author: Mr. Gordon Shaw, SDG Advisor 



Drought is the new normal
May 2017

In East Africa, agricultural policies must focus on the availability of water. The region is becoming more arid, so water supply cannot simply be left to nature. Adaptation to climate change is indispensable.

Author: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General, SDGC/A



Asian lessons for Africa
October 2017

Western observers tend to worry about labour conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories. Where they see exploitation and misery, however, an African expert sees a promising development path that sub-Saharan countries should follow too.

Author: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General, SDGC/A



Global governance for SDGs
April 2017

Around the world, enormous enthusiasm for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been shown. However, there is a lack of clearly defined responsibilities for achieving them at the international level.

Author: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General, SDGC/A



Mobilizing Higher Education for the Sustainable Development Goals
January 2017

With a burgeoning African youth population that is increasingly challenging the quality and quantity of tertiary educational institutes in Africa, a revitalization of educational policies that stagnate the pace of development has become central to progress. Tertiary education, especially in Sub Saharan Africa, has come a long way from the 1980's when most funding was limited to primary and secondary education. In an increasingly technologically sophisticated world, highly specialized skill-sets were essential to Africa’s global economic role.

 Author: SDGC/A

SDG Financing for Africa: Key Propositions and Areas of Engagement
January 2017

SDG Financing for Africa: Key Propositions and Areas of Engagement  is a discussion paper presented during the SDGC/A Conference: Expediting the Implementation of Africa's 2030 Agenda on 27 January 2017, Kigali, Rwanda. 

The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in African nations requires a bold approach to development finance – one that significantly increases long-term, public and private investments on the continent. Without a bold approach to this endeavor, the SDGs will simply not be achieved. Unlike the period of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), during which there was a major focus in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), the SDGs will require all types of financing – public, private, international and domestic – to be achieved. As a result of this need, new frameworks for development finance are required for national governments and financial institutions. The purpose of this document is to highlight key propositions regarding the financing of the SDGs in African nations and to articulate how the SDGC/A will help contribute to these challenges.

Authors: Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director-General, SDGC/A, and Mr. Aniket Shah, SDG Advisor for Development Finance, SDGC/A.

Professor Vijay Modi
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, SEAS
Faculty, Earth Institute and Data Science Institute
Columbia University

SharedSolar - A qSEL Project
Pay-as-you-go system for household electric

March 2017 

SharedSolar pioneered the first pay-as-you-go minigrids in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide grid-like service using renewable energy, digital metering and smartly managed storage. Shared Solar has brought reliable and verifiable electric service to off-grid communities. Core principle was to allow a seamless growth of consumption and appliance ownership on consumer side without having to make additional consumer investments each time in generation/storage hardware. Shared Solar takes a decentralized approach to providing electric infrastructure and service to communities that are not immediately considered viable for grid connectivity.

Author: Professor Vijay Modi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, SEAS, Faculty, Earth Institute and Data Science Institute, Columbia University

A Toolkit for Geospatial Electrification Planning
March 2017 

The ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4All) initiative was launched by the United Nations in 2011, aiming for universal access to modern energy services by 2030. Hundreds of millions worldwide still lack electricity. The Sustainable Engineering Lab has years of experience and an innovative, inexpensive, and highly practical mix of tools to help with geospatial electrification planning for increased access. 

SEL also has more than ten years of field work and project implementation experience in the areas of development planning and geo-spatial data gathering in many countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The SEL team provides training in many technical aspects of geo-spatial data gathering and management, including grid and social infrastructure mapping, algorithmic modeling. The SEL team also has experience implementing and managing innovative smart solar micro-grids.

Author: Professor Vijay Modi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, SEAS, Faculty, Earth Institute and Data Science Institute, Columbia University
Contact: Vijay Modi (Director):; Edwin Adkins (Geospatial Planning Specialist):

Acacia Irrigation - A qSEL Project
Pay-as-you-go (or lease to own) system for smallholder irrigation

March 2017 

Smallholder irrigation has alluded much of Sub-Saharan Africa, even though it played a key role in lifting Asia out of poverty and hunger. The Acacia Irrigation system developed by the qSEL addresses this challenge. Recognizing the need to provide a low operating cost solution, yet not burden the farmer with high capital costs of solar equipment, we developed a pay-as-you-go model for irrigation water provision. The system can power one or more pumps located in close proximity (200 meters) to each other with a single solar PV power source. Successful current usage has been in the Niayes zone in Senegal, stretching from Dakar to St. Louis. Here 5 to 7 kWp PV installation power one or more one kW three phase AC motors to drive pumps. The farmers receive water as a service. We are also developing a low-cost single farmer (but share-able) system.

Author: Professor Vijay Modi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, SEAS, Faculty, Earth Institute and Data Science Institute, Columbia University


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