And God said, “Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shed light upon the earth Genesis 1:14-17
Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources…” Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home
Currently 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity.
Paradoxically, they who contributed little to global climate change are the most impacted by it.The opportunities are immense for making a positive difference in poor people’s lives. Solar energy production can significantly reduce their reliance on the most polluting fuels, gathered wood and on a larger scale, diesel. A modest five MW solar field avoids125,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions over 20 years – the equivalent of planting 180,000 trees.
To put into practice religious teachings on creation care, including Laudato Si’, through rapid deployment of solar energy and sustainable rural development in order to combat climate change and support sustainable development in Africa.
To establish a practical, scalable mechanism to support a pipeline of investment and deployment of at least $1 billion in solar photovoltaic projects of 5 MW or larger in Africa over the next five years;
Implement the projects via a new strategic partnership model of faith institutions and communities in Africa (Christian and Muslim)
Proposed Partners and Roles
Faith Communities in Africa: Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant Christian, and Muslim
The proposed partners are the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Gigawatt Global, and Tevel B’Tzedek.
The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD)
Based in Jerusalem, ICSD works to catalyze a transition to a sustainable, thriving, and spiritually-aware society through the leadership of faith communities. ICSD accesses the collective wisdom of the world’s religions to promote co-existence, peace, and sustainability through education and action.
Gigawatt Global Coöperatief U.A. is a multinational renewable energy company focused on the development and management of utility-scale solar fields in emerging markets. With over 1000 MW of solar projects in its pipeline worldwide, Gigawatt Global brings extensive experience in all aspects of renewable energy project finance and development.
The project is a blended for and not-for-profit social venture bringing together faith institutions, NGOs, and Gigawatt Global for rapid, massive deployment of solar energy and scalable rural sustainable development in Africa.
Gigawatt Global will bring all necessary project financing, debt and equity, and will dedicate profits from the corners of the solar fields (a modern updating of a Biblical injunction) to fund work of non-profit organizations, as well as providing power and funding for local social needs. Vastly larger funds may be mobilized much more quickly in the context of a for-profit venture that aims to supply the very basic sustainable development enabler – alternative energy, than is possible from philanthropic sources.
ICSD will serve as project coordinator. It will identify and recruit faith institutions in sub-Saharan Africa interested in collaborating on this project and providing land for the deployment of solar installations. ICSD will reach out to other Israeli and Jewish African development NGOs to seek their involvement and collaboration. Together with its faith partners it will develop faith-based educational resources on solar energy. ICSD will also approach senior religious leadership, including in the Vatican, the Anglican church, the Orthodox church, and Muslim institutions. to offer their support and bless the model for adoption by local institutions in Africa at their discretion.
To create, develop and refine the model, we seek to engage faith institutions at all levels. The initial model project will focus on development of a strategic partnership collaboration with the Catholic Church. In accordance with Laudato Si, we invite the Vatican to offer its support and bless the model for adoption by dioceses in Africa at their sole discretion and authority. Upon success of the first model project, from the Vatican to a local diocese, we will then seek to scale up and replicate the model in other dioceses and faith institutions in the same and other countries.