Understanding the ESRI Project

The idea for the ESRI project was conceived as a result of the energy problems confronted by the many schools and hospitals in eastern and southern Africa who face increasing demand for energy services and a need to address environmental issues, but who currently lack specialist energy knowledge. To address the energy problems they face, the need for rural institutions to find energy solutions based on their own understanding and locally available resources has been identified. Such solutions would combine demand-side management, energy efficiency measures and careful investment in new, appropriate technology. In this regard, a niche exists for energy service advisors (ESAs) to develop sustainable businesses supporting rural institutions. The ESRI project is seeking to enable local community based organisations to develop capacity as energy service advisors. ESAs will work with institutions to improve the efficiency of energy services. In addition to the environmental and local economic benefits, the increased access to such services will also alleviate poverty by improving access to education and healthcare.

Project Phases

The ESRI project commenced in July 2000 at a meeting which brought together partners from the three participating countries of Kenya, Uganda and South Africa and the UK Project Coordinator, ESD. Since then, the project has been conducted around the following phases:

Recording PV system data during clinic
energy audit


Collection of data at grassroots level
Energy use data (quantitative)
- Energy use patterns/problems(qualitative)

Training and capacity building to ensure that rural institution staff,
energy service advisors (ESAs) and country co-ordinators can communicate views effectively.

Participatory approaches are also being adopted to maximise accuracy of data collected and to minimise bias.

Survey instruments (an energy audit methodology) will be flexible to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.

Information gathering and verification of initial findings will continue during energy planning, through the continued participation of rural institutions.  

Guidelines will also be developed which reflect the experience gained, and these will widen the applicability of the project's results.


- Selection of target regions and, within those regions, institutions in which the activity would take place.
- Identification of potential ESAs, i.e. existing organisations such as SMEs, local NGOs, etc who will develop ESA capability within the project.
- Training of potential ESAs
- Design of standard energy audit methodology and format.

A school building in rural South Africa and its genset equipment

- Carrying out preparatory sessions with ESAs and institution staff
- Supporting ESAs conducting energy audits of rural institutions with full involvement of staff
- Working with ESAs to analyse energy supply, demand and end-use for each institution and identify opportunities for improving end-use efficiencies and for investing   in improved energy technologies such as renewables.
- Monitor ESAs during presentation of reports to the institutions, outlining of the options available (with costs) and discussion of preferences.
- Assist ESAs to prepare Energy Action Plan for each institution based on prepared options.
- Support ESAs when presenting Action Plans to the institutions.
Phase 3- SUPPORT
- Assist ESAs to establish links with energy designers, equipment suppliers and potential sources of finance
- Guide ESAs in developing their business plans.
- Support ESAs as they work with the institutions to implement the plans (providing training, linking with designers, technicians, suppliers)
Undertake follow-up visits to provide continuing assistance as required and to monitor the extent of impact of the initiatives.
- Develop Guidelines based on project findings.

Progress to date

By the end of December 2001, 18 months into the project, progress in delivering the following outputs has been made:

  Progress in:
Increased awareness and understanding amongst institution staff of energy efficiency, demand-side management, new energy technologies. Support from CfBT and the Christian Health Association of Kenya has assisted ESAs and the project team to identify target institutions, train potential ESAs and raise awareness. Issues for ESAs trying to sell services to institutions have been identified and dealing with these issues will assist ESAs approach to institutions.

  With initial training underway, awareness is being increased and trainees have expressed a high level of interest in learning more about solar systems, auditing and data analysis.   ESAs have been drawn from a number of education and health institutions. The ESAs have completed initial energy audits at their home institutions. Contact has been made with potential target institutions and discussions have been held with CfBT and HTDC with regard to awareness raising.
Energy Service Advisors (ESAs) operating to support rural institutions in dealing with issues of energy supply and demand. ESA models and actors identified and engaged. ESA basic training completed. Second level of training completed with larger number of trainees. On-job training continuing. The Kenyan team is examining ways to ensure that the ESAs have long-term opportunities.   One ESA model option has been finally selected and training has been started. This presents a real opportunity to see the ESA operating in the long-term, within a structured environment. Sensitising activities are being considered through the targeting awareness among teachers in the home.

  An entrepreneurial approach has been adopted in Uganda. The ESAs will be encouraged to establish their own, independent businesses. At the same time, thought is now being given to how "business training" should be delivered and how such independent businesses would survive long-term
Guidelines for energy management and improved energy services at rural institutions.

A skeleton guidelines document has been prepared which the team will build upon. Energy auditing methodologies (currently in draft form) will be integrated into the Guidelines, along with training material.
Standard reporting methodologies will be developed and these will also inform the guidelines document.
Communication strategies to bring the findings to stakeholders. Joint meetings with the lead partner of project R7664 have been held. Web site links between the two projects are in operation. A series of actions and follow-up meetings, leading to a joint output have been agreed.