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End of term evaluation of the Increasing Access to Clean and Affordable Decentralized Energy Services Project
Commissioning Unit: Malawi
Evaluation Plan: 2019-2023
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 03/2020
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Malawi
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

The provision of training needs to target the right people, while the training content/focus should be determined at District Council level using a bottom up approach. The District Councils should be supported by energy officers that will be instrumental in energy planning for a district.   

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Partially accept. In principle, UNDP is in agreement with this recommendation.  However, deployment of energy officers is under the purview of government entities.  Since district councils do not have established positions for energy officers at present, UNDP continues to advocate for the establishment of these positions in district councils.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Share a copy of the evaluation report, highlighting the importance of energy officers in planning at the district level.
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
UNDP Country Office Resilience and Sustainable Growth (RSG) unit 2021/04 Overdue-Initiated History
2. Recommendation:

Adequate baseline measurements should be undertaken before project inception in order to adequately measure impacts and underpin more effective planning. Generally, a more nuanced socio-economic M&E framework is required.   

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. UNDP will explore opportunities for robust baseline studies before embarking on full-fledged implementation of projects.  This recommendation has been considered for the new project Access to Clean and Renewable Energy (ACRE) which will dedicate its first year to baseline studies.  The Resilience and Sustainable Growth (RSG) Portfolio will adopt a recently developed an M&E framework for all country office projects. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1. Conduct Baseline surveys before implementation of main activities under ACRE.
[Added: 2020/10/08]
RSG 2021/12 Not Initiated
. Adopt a robust results monitoring and reporting tool in all projects
[Added: 2020/10/08]
RSG 2021/12 Not Initiated
3. Recommendation:

The subsequent UNDP funded projects/programmes should include the UNCDF as the ‘responsible party’ (through a UN to UN Agency Agreement) for disbursement of funds to the private sector in order to promote private sector participation in GMG.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Partially accept. UNDP is in agreement with this recommendation in principle as final design of projects take into account many factors.  A new program on promoting affordable renewable energy has made provision for partnering with UNCDF, multi- and bilateral development finance institutions, and the private sector.  Additionally, through a partnership with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), ACRE will seek to tackle the barriers to crowding-in private finance in Malawi’s energy sector.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1. Engage UNCDF and other partners to assist with private sector collaboration under the ACRE project and potentially under the GEF-7 mini-grids project that is currently under development.
[Added: 2020/10/08]
RSG 2021/12 Not Initiated
2. Engage the private sector to co-finance energy sector investment
[Added: 2020/10/08]
RSG 2021/12 Not Initiated
4. Recommendation:

The agreements signed between future programmes and associated project developers should adopt a more outcome-based technical assistance agreement that is linked to measurable progress in project implementation.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. This is the best practice from the Letter of Agreement Templates available. Efforts will be made to incorporate activity and output targets as performance milestones for releasing payments, noting the scope for government partners to improve performance-based management practices.  The CO will also explore adoption of performance-based payments contracts in future energy projects. The CO has extensive experience in performance-based grants from its private sector development initiatives suitable for replication in the energy sector.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop a framework or concept on performance-based grant agreements
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
RSG 2021/09 Not Initiated History
5. Recommendation:

Future program designs need to balance the need to distribute resources evenly or equitably (infrastructure sprinkling) with the need to understand and replicate impacts (more concentrated investments).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. Management notes that the project on increasing access to energy services was piloting the MEGA experience for replication.  Based on this experience, future investments will be concentrated.  Going forward the new project will use the lessons learnt from the previous projects and identify specific project sites before inviting expressions of interest for mini-grid construction at the selected sites.  In this way issues of equity will be addressed. ACRE will implement pre-feasibility studies to identify suitable sites, undertake detailed feasibility studies, designs, construction and transfer for operation and management to mini-grid operators.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
A study to identify project sites
[Added: 2020/10/08]
RSG 2020/01 Completed
6. Recommendation:

Productive use of electricity within the overall mini-grid plans needs to be promoted with more concerted effort.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. UNDP agrees with this recommendation and will prioritize productive use of renewable energy in the ACRE initiative and GEF-7 mini-grids project, noting the benefits of engaging large institutional and commercial off-takers to subsidize household connections.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Make provisions for promoting productive use of mini grids in the new energy projects (Access to Clean and Renewable Energy and the GEF-7 national project under the Africa mini-grids program)
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/07/12]
RSG 2021/06 Completed Promotion of productive use of mini grids has been included in new project - Access to Clean and Renewable Energy (ACRE). History
7. Recommendation:

There are a number of ownership options, as opposed to a single option, which should be explored further in subsequent programmes.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. The project was replicating a business ownership model based on social entrepreneurs, in accordance with UNDP corporate guidelines.  The mini-grid toolkit developed under the Increasing Energy Access project includes a range of ownership models, which will be explored during implementation of ACRE. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Print and disseminate mini grid tool kit to stakeholders and avail the same on the web
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
RSG 2021/08 Overdue-Not Initiated History
8. Recommendation:

While program related grant finance from GEF and other donors is critical at this stage, accessing commercial finance will have to be increasingly formalized over time, with each subsequent initiative increasingly institutionalizing financial access as the technology and market matures.Fully accept. The CO welcomes this recommendation, noting that the new energy projects (ACRE and GEF-7 mini-grids project) have dedicated activities focused on innovative financing to address this challenge.  

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. The CO welcomes this recommendation, noting that the new energy projects (ACRE and GEF-7 mini-grids project) have dedicated activities focused on innovative financing to address this challenge.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Share this evaluation report with government highlighting the recommendation in the cover letter.
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
RSG 2021/08 Overdue-Not Initiated History
9. Recommendation:

There is a need to develop a realistic electrification masterplan and consistently apply the plan in order to stabilize and de-risk the mini-grid sector.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. The recommendation is welcome by the CO. The project supported the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) to develop a Rural Electrification Masterplan, the implementation of which will be led by the Department of Energy Affairs (DoEA). Subsequent programmes on mini-grids sites will be done in consultation with the DoEA and the Masterplan. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Promote adherence by project partners to GOM masterplan implementation, supporting regular reporting to monitor progress.
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
RSG 2021/08 Overdue-Not Initiated History
10. Recommendation:

There is a need to advance untested mini-grid frameworks through subsequent implementation and consideration of issues such as selling electricity to the grid through PPAs, operators assuming the role of local distributors, etc.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. The project supported the development of a mini-grid regulatory framework to include such issues, including expansion of the grid to connect clean energy mini-grids.  As the mini-grid regulatory framework is under implementation, this recommendation will be pursued by the CO.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Share the evaluation report with the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and recommend piloting interconnection of a mini-grid to national grid as well as net metering within the ACRE program.
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
RSG 2021/08 Overdue-Initiated History
11. Recommendation:

Communities need to be well informed about the options, intentions and implications of the range of energy services. Consistent and constant messaging around the need for grid and off-grid is important to reduce potential tensions around perceptions of superior/inferior service options.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/10/08]

Fully accept. UNDP agrees with the recommendation and will redouble its investments in public communications and awareness raising on service quality from renewable energy mini grids.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Produce information, education and communication (IEC) materials on options, intentions and implications of the range of energy services for sharing with communities.
[Added: 2020/10/08] [Last Updated: 2021/03/25]
RSG 2021/08 Overdue-Not Initiated History

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