Conferences never used to be the sort of subject that people used to talk about. Conferences used to be boring affairs, populated by bureaucrats munching on canapes and drinking weak coffee.

But it was when my 17-year-old daughter asked me whether I could get her a ticket to attend November’s COP26 in Glasgow that it became obvious that things have changed. The whole world is suddenly and urgently conscious of the existence of the abstractly-named COP26; and much of the world is paying close attention to what commitments political and business leaders will make.

The implications for the Global South are, of course, stark. Billions of people living in rural and less developed countries face a dramatic Catch-22 scenario: balancing the drive for developing a better life, while at the same time confronting the reality that continuing to drive development with fossil fuels will only dig a deeper climate hole.

Amongst the many responses to the climate crisis, the path to decentralized renewable energy in off-grid communities in the Global South is one of the most significant. Yet energy access challenges are not confined to rural areas: they extend down agricultural value chains to on-grid urban markets where larger processors prepare output that is ready for wholesale or export markets.

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