3G Solar Home Systems

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation invites eligible and experienced suppliers to an International Public Tender for the supply of G Solar Home Systems, related spare parts and compatible devices for its Project: “Alianza Shire: Energy Access for Host Communities and Refugees in Shire”

Shire Alliance is the first Spanish partnership in humanitarian action. The partnership was formed in December 2014 with the goal of improving access to energy for host communities, refugees and displaced persons contributing to SDG 7. Shire Alliance unites the efforts of three leading private companies in the energy sector (Iberdrola, Acciona.org and Signify), a national development agency (AECID), with the support of a multilateral agency specialised in working with refugees (UNCHR). The Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Technical University of Madrid (itdUPM) is the institution in charge of facilitating the partnership.

On last 4th, May 2018

May 2018, AECID signed a Delegation Agreement with the EU Delegation in Addis Ababa (contracting authority) for the implementation of the project named: “Shire Alliance: Energy access for host communities and refugees in Shire”, with an implementing period for the action of 34 months that already started 4th July 2018 finishing on the 4th May 2021.

The overall objective of this action is to improve the living conditions in the refugee camps and host communities by enhancing local capacity, creating livelihood opportunities, and improving the access to basic services using the cross-cutting impacts of energy.

One of its specific objectives is: to create livelihood opportunities and improve the quality of life of refugees and host communities through capacity building, creation of businesses based on solar technology and distribution of Solar Home Systems, fostering employment and economic development.

3G Solar Home Systems

Budget of the tender with no possibility of reduction:

€517,200.00 (VAT EXEMPT).

Duration of the contract:

The duration period of the contract shall be from 1 May to 30 June 2020.

Place of delivery:

The goods referred to in the subject matter of the contract shall be delivered to the warehouses of the Adi-Harush, Mai Aini and Hitsats refugee camps in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

All the related information regarding the technical and administrative specifications can be consulted in the following link:


For English version please click on the following links

Administrative Clauses:


Technical Specifications:


As an international public tender all national and international suppliers are invited to participate.

For further information or questions regarding the tender bidders :

Bidders can contact AECID in Ethiopia through the following email: otc.etiopia@aecid.es and under the subject: off grid tender.

From design to action

On November 21, itdUPM organized an (un)likely dialogue on the technical design of phase II of Alianza Shire, in order to share the lessons learned and the perspectives of the different members of the partnership: “From design to action”.

Participants in the dialogue included Carlos Mataix from itdUPM; Macarena Romero of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID); Edelmira Campos of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Manuel Pastor, from the Alianza Shire technical team; Julio Eisman of Acciona.org Foundation; Rosario Sánchez of Iberdrola; and Mar Gandolfo of Signify.

Full video of the session:


Following an introduction to the context of the refugee population in Ethiopia, along with a brief history of Alianza Shire, representatives from the collaborating partner entities shared an update on the progress of their work and the challenges they are addressing from their respective areas of expertise. These challenges can be summed up as follows:

  • Complex contexts require complex solutions that promote inclusion, innovation and durable solutions. The approach by Alianza Shire is a clear example of a comprehensive response to a complex problem.
  • With this type of partnership, it is important to carry out an initial test, such as a pilot project or prototype. An approach based on scalability requires learning from different models and methodologies, and deciding which are most suitable for that particular context.

    • The solutions to major challenges, such as access to energy, must feature adaptability and flexibility in the design. The next step is to evaluate how the lessons learned can be scaled up.
    • In order to guarantee long-term sustainability of the initiative, actions such as the training of trainers can be carried out as a way of guaranteeing continuity, consensus between the refugee population and local communities, and ownership of the initiative by the local population.
    • It is essential to systematize these experiences and ideas for their potential replication in other locations and contexts.
    • Local actors (communities, organizations, public administration, etc.) should be involved from the start in the design phase of the project or initiative.

protection of refugees

Visit to the Shire camps

Last November, a team comprised of technical staff from Iberdrola and Signify visited the four refugee camps where Alianza Shire is working to provide access to energy, for both the camps and local communities.

During this visit, the technical specialists had the opportunity to meet with staff from the Ethiopian Electric Utility to verify the technical design, and more specifically, the design of the lines that will be extended in the camps.


Allianza’s Team

Valentín Pérez of Iberdrola believes that a key part of the project design could be carried out with materials currently being used in Spain. “We are familiar with the performance and quality of the pylons, poles, and the different types of cables, etc. In this regard, we can guarantee the reliability, quality and longevity of the electric grid that will be installed in the future.”

Eduardo Ruiz, a technical specialist from Signify, offered another possibility: “This can be done by determining which elements (posts, fittings, etc.) are available in the camps, and how we can integrate them into our project.”


After visiting the camps, another aspect that was highlighted by both technical specialists is the importance of the refugee population’s sense of ownership of the facilities.

“In most cases, the private electric generators that we observed were in perfect condition, in contrast to the lack of maintenance of the general electric grid,” says Valentín.

Several participatory workshops were held in November with the refugee population and local communities in order to determine the priority lighting areas.

The visits by the technical staff have also helped determine which machinery might be necessary, in addition to what was previously included at the start of the project, such as platforms, cranes or compressors.


© ACNUR / UNHCR / Mikel Prieto

Progress in 2019: During this year, the Alianza Shire technical team conducted several visits to the four refugee camps that they are working in –Adi-harush, Shimelba, Hitsats and Mai-Aini-, in order to collect technical data, organize workshops and meetings with the refugee population, host communities and partner organizations, etc., as well as coordinate with  ZOA, an organization that the partnership works closely with on the ground.

Last May, several technical specialists from Acciona.org visited the four camps in order to coordinate the project with the off-grid system – access to electricity solutions through solar home systems that are not connected to the grid.

A group of women in the participatory mapping workshop in the Shimelba refugee camp

This mission  allowed them to observe first-hand  the refugee population’s level of access to energy, as well as the operations of several small businesses in the camps, their available resources and their needs in order to improve those businesses.

In November 2019, technical staff from IberdrolaSignify and itdUPM also visited the camps in order to develop the final technical design of the on-grid component- connection with the Ethiopian national grid-.

During this visit, an assessment was conducted on the conditions of the different facilities in the camps and the services that need to be connected. In addition, the preliminary mapping of the power lines and lighting points was conducted.


Evaluating the condition of the facilities

To this end, the technical pre-design was taken as a starting point, based on a set of standard “kits” with materials for different uses (lighting, community service connection, business connection…).

15 participatory workshops with refugees were also organized in the four camps, in order to map the problems associated with the lack of lighting and their proposed solutions, to give priority to lighting in certain areas of the camps.

Alianza Shire and ZOA staff at the local offices

Follow the broadcast live on the web, from design to action


On November 21st, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (GMT+1, check the time in your place), we will be holding an (un)likely dialogue on the technical design of phase II of Alianza Shire, which will be open to the public in the itdUPM building: from design to action.

In this phase, which will run until 2021, we are working to improve living conditions in four refugee camps in Shire (Northern Ethiopia), as well as in the host communities of these camps.

The project has two components: one focused on access to electricity in shared facilities (on-grid), and another on access to electricity through renewable energy in homes and small businesses (off-grid).

from design to action


  • Presentation of Lab Shire by Carlos Mataix, director of itdUPM, and representative of the Spanish Agency for International Development.
  • The situation of Eritrean refugees and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), presented by Edelmira Campos of the UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency.
  • The 2018-2021 project. Lessons learned from the first phase and overall design of the second phase, by Manuel Pastor of the Alianza Shire technical team.
  • Off-grid component, by Julio Eisman from Acciona.org Foundation
  • On-grid component, by Rosario Sánchez of Iberdrola and Mar Gandolfo of Signify.
  • Dialogue with the public.


Follow the event in twitter: #AlianzaShire

Javier Mazorra and Manuel Pastor, from the Alianza Shire technical team, are participating in the Humanitarian Energy Conferenceheld on Addis Ababa (ethiopia), July 31th and August 1st.

Humanitarian-Private Partnerships: Lessons from the practice

Intervention summary by Javier Mazorra

During this presentation I will focus on three main questions and try to answer them with the lessons learned from the practice by Alianza Shire:

  • First, what do we understand for a multi-stakeholder partnership?
  • Second, why do we have to work through partnerships and to improve the collaboration schemes we are using?
  • And lastly, and in our opinion the most important question, how can we develop effective partnerships and going beyond rhetoric calls to work through partnerships?

So, beginning with what do we understand for a multi-stakeholder partnership, it is important to point out that the need of better collaboration with different sectors is set on the Agenda for Humanity’s core commitments or on the SDG, through the SDG 17.


But, it is important to think on the final aim of this multi-stake holder collaborations. Both Agendas (Humanity and SDG) have focus on transformation so there is a need to develop partnerships that contributes to create systemic changes, those called transformative partnerships. Transformational change resulting from collaboration is the one at the end change the “rules of the games” on specific sectors.

Obviously, to arrive to a transformative partnership there is a need to enhance the potential of partners to generate meaningful shared value as they evolve through four stages of collaboration.

Within this framework we formed “Alianza Shire.

Energy Access to refugees and host communities” in 2014 with the aim of developing a transformative partnership.

Alianza Shire is formed by the Spanish companies Iberdrola and Signify, acciona.org The Energy & Water Foundation, The Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (itdUPM) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), with the collaboration of UNHCR, with the aim of developing sustainable solutions of energy in refugee camps and host communities.

We have developed a pilot project in one of the Shire Refugee Camps, North Ethiopia, benefiting 8.000 thousand refugees. Since 2018, we are scaling-up that project to the four camps in Shire targeting 40.000 thousand people in the refugee camps and host communities with ZOA Ngo as implementing partner.

Collaborative scheme

In this collaborative scheme, each member has a different and contributes with different but complementary capabilities depending on their expertise:

  • Humanitarian organisations: context knowledge, operational capabilities and know-how in humanitarian settings.
  • Innovation departments private Sector: know-how and innovation. From different departments and different background compared single consultant.
  • University: research and knowledge. Brokering organisation.
  • Refugees and host community: from beneficiaries to service users and active stakeholders.

Once we know the what, it is also important to point out why to create this kind of partnerships.

Most problems we are facing in humanitarian settings can be defined as wicked problems. A wicked problem could be defined as:

  • A problem without a unique solution due to its complexity,
  • connection with many other problems and
  • do not have a definitive definition as they are different in each location where we find them.
  • Also, they are characterized because there is not a unique solution to them,
  • there is no idealized end state to arrive at
  • and normally teams approaching them has to make things up as they go along.

I think everyone now on the room could be identified whit this definition when speaking about access to energy for Crisis-Affected Communities.

Traditional approaches are not valid

Taking this into account, traditional approaches are not valid to solve this kind of problems. To solve them, we need to partner with different stakeholders contributing with complementary skills and capabilities on radical collaboration schemes that fosters innovations. If we achieve that kind schemes, through partnerships for examples, sustainable solutions will emerge that could contribute to partially to tackle the problem.

How to develop effective and successful multi-stakeholder partnerships

But this is not easy to do, and I know all my previous statements could sound quite rhetoric and a generic call to partner. However, during the last five year we have gathered several lessons learned on different topics on how to develop effective and successful multi-stakeholder partnerships:

  • Norms and procedures: Adequate rules and regulations are needed to facilitate the legal and institutional fit of alliances. These regulations should promote reciprocal relations between the partners (where the donor-recipient dichotomy is abandoned), in which each partner assigns resources and complementary capacities for achieving a common goal, while risks and accomplishments are shared among all.
  • Management: to develop more open and flexible management processes, which promote diversity (by integrating all the involved parties in the diagnosis and design, and not only in the execution), and where traditional planning processes can take place within approaches that pursue systemic change.
  • Values/incentives: partnerships must pay close attention to shared values. Working in truly cooperative and multi-stakeholder environments requires empathy, generosity and tolerance towards failure. Generating lasting relationships that exceed a project’s time horizon requires significant doses of institutional and financial energy, and a well distributed and transformative leadership.
  • Enabling and learning spaces: on the one hand, action-oriented projects where the differential and transformative value of this way of working can be demonstrated, and on the other, spaces that ensure learning and that “the project does not eclipse innovation”. These spaces (enabling environments, backbones, or labs) can serve to stably integrate technical and scientific capacities in an extreme context (such as refugee camps), re-frame problems and develop new narratives, test new regulatory frameworks and, in short, incubate new actions that ensure an alliance continuity.
  • Brokering entity



In conclusion, in order to tackle this kind of wicked problems, there is a need to develop new transformative multi-stakeholder partnerships based on radical collaboration schemes where innovations is fostered and new solutions to old problems emerged.


A presentation of Alianza Shire

Intervention summary by Manuel Pastor

Alianza Shire is a Spanish Partnership, formed by the itdUPM, the Spanish Cooperation Agency from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and three leading Spanish companies in the energy sector which aims at improving energy services to refugees and host communities.

The main objective of my presentation is to explain the decision-making process regarding the different solutions for electricity access in which we are working through our experience in Shire refugee camps.

We work in Shire refugee camps, in the North of Ethiopia. There are four camps with a global population over 50.000 eritrean refugees.

Some of the camps have been active for more than ten years, so apart from exceptional situations or picks in the influx of refugees, there is not a context of emergency but a stable situation.

From 2014 to 2017, we implemented a pilot project in Adi-Harush camp, where more than 8.000 Eritrean refugees where leaving.

Since the resources were limited and it was our first experience, the project focused in the national grid extension to the communal services in the camp, as well as the installation of street lighting, in order to maximize the impact of the intervention and reach as much population as possible.

Concretely, we connected 14 communal services to the grid, including the primary school, the health centre, communal kitchens, etc.

Regarding the communal kitchens, they are installations that have around 10 electrical stoves and that allow a high proportion of the population to cook the Ethiopian traditional bread, the injera.

In addition, we installed over 2 km of street lighting in the main roads of the camp.

The process for the implementation was: first the technical staff of the companies provided theoretical training to a group of refugees and hosts.

Then, the practical training consisted in the actual installation of the equipment in the camp, and finally we created a group of operators to be in charge of the maintenance of the installations.

The main impacts of the intervention were: reduction in the deforestation and CO2 emissions due to the use of the communal kitchens, reduction in the fuel cost of the implementing partners that run the communal facilities with diesel generators and a reduction in the number of robberies during the night.

Fase II

After the experience of the pilot project, we are scaling it up to the four Shire refugee camps and their host communities under the Trust Fund of the European Union for the Horn of Africa.

This project started in 2018 and will finish by 2021, and have two main components: one on-grid and one off-grid.

The on-grid component will consist in the connection to the grid of all the remaining communal services in the camps, as well as in the installation of over 20 km of street lighting in the refugee camps and some areas of the host community, with a similar approach to the pilot project.

In addition, we carried out an assessment about the energy consumption in the businesses in the camp, and we found that there is a huge expenditure in electricity service for high-energy demand businesses, like restaurants, cinemas or barberries.

Some of these businesses, as a first experience in the camps, will be connected to the national grid.

Taking into account the shortage of power in the country, and trying to overload the gird in the area around the camps, small businesses like shops and households will be targeted with the off-grid component.

Since they have a limited electricity demand, the solution we chose is to provide the service through solar home systems.

The SHS will provide service for two lights, mobile charge and small appliances like TV, radio or fan.

This will be done through the creation of refugees and hosts-owned micro-business that will carry out the maintenance and operation of the SHS.

For that, the users will pay a monthly fee for the use of the system, not for the ownership.

In this way, since the users pay for the service and not for the product, if the connection to the grid can be extended to the household level, the SHS can be transferred to other population in need.



In June, members of itdUPM organized a seminar on multi-stakeholder, the role of the facilitator and how academic institutions can accelerate the creation of partnerships.

John D. Spengler and Wendy M. Purcell of Harvard University participated in the seminar “Partnerships, how to build facilitating spaces”, along with Carlos Mataix, director of itdUPM.

At the seminar, the topics addressed were based on case studies, such as that of the University of Plymouth, issues such as regulatory policies, systemic approaches, leadership and the characteristics of facilitating organizations.

Watch the complete video and presentations of the session


If you want to learn more about the Shire Alliance initiative, here you can find out all the information first hand: Alianza Shire

Alianza Shire team meeting with representatives from the host community of the Mai Aini camp

In May, a team from Alianza Shire visited the refugee camps where we will be working until 2021, with the aim of coordinating the project with partner organizations, the refugee population and host communities, as well as collecting technical data.

These visits have allowed us to observe first-hand the conditions of access to energy for the refugee population, in addition to the operations of several of the small businesses in the camps, the resources they have and the need to improve these businesses.

The Shimelba camp, with more than 1,700 settlements, has five private generators, which only provide energy to 30% of the camp. With these generators, the families pay 100 birr per month (3 euros) for lighting, and 600 birr per month (18 euros) for electricity for a fridge.

A shop in Mai Aini Refugee Camp

In this camp, there are substantial differences between the cost of access to energy between the camp itself and the host community. One of the small businesses visited pays 90 birr per month (2.7 euros) for a lighting point for four hours, and 150 birr per month (4.5 euros) for electricity for a fridge.

On the other hand, another shop in the host community pays 30 birr per month (0.90 euros) for a lighting point, and 27 birr per month (0.80 euros) for electricity for a fridge.

This difference is due to the fact that in the refugee camps, electricity comes from private generators, while in the host community it is supplied through an intermittent connection to the electricity grid.

Shimelba refugee camp

One of the most typical businesses in the refugee camps is a mobile phone recharging station, along with small appliance repair (mobile phones, radio, television, etc.).

In the Mai-Aini refugee camp, Abdel Hatil – real name protected for security reasons – has had a workshop for these types of repairs for 10 years. The workshop is intermittently connected to the main electrical grid, and a lighting point costs 100 birr per month (3 euros).

In the Hitsats camp, Koren Hall – name also protected – has a small shop dedicated solely to recharging mobile phones. It is connected to a private generator that costs 450 birr per month (14 euros). Each day, an average of 100 mobile phones are charged for a cost of 2 birr (0.06 euros) each.

The problems in access to electricity are similar in these cases and, on many occasions, the refugee population often lacks the capacity to bear the costs, mainly those from the supply of private generators.

Alianza Shire is studying a model that enables access to affordable and quality energy for the refugee population and host communities, and which ensures long-term support through training and the creation of small businesses to maintain service.