Energy Portfolio Specialist

UNOPS, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Skill Required:, Business Development/ Resource MobilizationFinance and Accounts
Preferred Experience: 
5 years
Closing Date for Applications: 
27th April, 2019

Job Description

Background Information - Job-specific:

In Sierra Leone, the Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP), a DFID-funded project, is collaborating with the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) to supply up to 5 MW of sustainable renewable electricity in rural communities through installations of at least 94 solar mini-grids to be operated and managed by private sector partners.

The implementation of the project is develop around five (5) Work Packages (WP):

6kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) generation plants at 54 Community Health Centres (CHCs) were installed between April and July 2017. These generation plants were then extended into small mini-grids with a capacity between 16kW and 36kW and distribution networks installed which will eventually connect all other public institutions and households in 50 of these communities. All 50 mini-grids are installed and ready for operation as of October 2018.

aims to bring the country’s photovoltaic (PV) power generation capacity up to 5MW by attracting the private sector to invest in the mini-grid market while drawing on the lessons of WP 1/1+. WP2 will install mini-grids in additional 40 communities with >36kW systems (up to max. 200kWp) using sustainable business and delivery models developed by the private sector.

Private sector operators have been selected through a competitive tender process, and will take on operation and maintenance of WP1/1+ mini-grids and co-invest in the development of the WP2 sites. The operators will be responsible for the last mile connection to identified customers and the in-house wiring of customer homes.

provides Technical Assistance (TA) and institutional capacity building to the Ministry of Energy, the Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission, other relevant government agencies as necessary, as well as to private sector companies selected to operate WP1 sites and co-invest in and operate WP2 sites.

This work package focus majorly on the Monitoring and Evaluation function. An M&E Plan including Impact Evaluation design will be develop for learning and accountability.

Private sector development. Through this work package, RREP seeks to develop a private sector engagement and strengthening strategy, underpinned by a keen understanding of local market systems, to promote productive use economies in mini‐grid catchment areas; supporting both the commercial viability of the privately operated mini‐grids.

In its two years of implementation, RREP has installed 50 mini-grids. These installations will be expanded in capacity throughout the life of the project to 2020, with 44 additional installations. The RREP mini-grid sites are poised to be hubs of new and improved economic activities generating better
employment opportunities and incomes and fostering greater social and economic welfare for communities.

To leverage this opportunity, RREP and partners seek to put in place a rural energy market development work stream under Work Package 6. The RREP Rural Energy Market Development work stream seeks to accelerate to accelerate demand and off-take of rural energy across mini-grid catchment area. The work stream seeks to collaborate with private sector to increase access to and drive uptake of new and improved rural energy-reliant economic opportunities and productive use equipment in mini-grid catchment areas. It also seeks to forge shared-vision partnerships with public, private and social sector stakeholders working to drive developmental outcomes in health, education, gender parity and overall poverty reduction where lack of energy access hinders further progress on such outcomes. Altogether, it seeks to support mini-grid operators toward provision of commercially viable energy services ultimately driving welfare increases of rural communities across catchment areas and beyond.

Functional Responsibilities:

Purpose and Scope of Assignment:

  • The RREP project is looking for a dynamic professional with a strong entrepreneurial sense and an excellent eye for identifying investment opportunities and partnerships. This role will work with local and international companies and investors, development partners and public sector stakeholders to drive energy partnerships and investment across mini-grids, productive use equipment and appliances, and potentially standalone systems.
  • The Energy Portfolio Specialist will directly report to the RREP Work Package Deputy Project Manager/Project Manager. He/she will manage a Programme Analyst advising, mentoring and managing him/her toward high quality and coordinated delivery.

Functional Responsibilities:

  • Portfolio design, governance, delivery, and growth facilitating and supporting partners in co-creation of interventions and solutions that foster off-take of newly available mini-grid electricity and productive use of energy at scale
  • Develop, manage and grow a pipeline of strategic, innovative, and co-leveraged partnerships and investments aligned with the work stream’s objectives and goals.
  • Assess and facilitate development of pilot businesses cases and scalable & replicable interventions, practices, business models, and financing instruments with partners including mini-grid operators, project developers, energy companies, and public and social sector stakeholders, as relevant
  • Provide technical assistance and capacity building to partners to design and pilot business cases that target practice, processes, and overall strategy innovations.
  • Provide operational and financial management support to partners and manage partnership delivery against targets including toward improving operational and financial management systems that support innovation, scale and overall business growth.
  • Nurture opportunities with investors and developers and broker investments in target Facility areas
  • Identify and produce relevant and insightful content (i.e., videos, infographics, case studies, snapshots, investment briefs etc.) toward development of a broad knowledge and learning platform to raise awareness of the facilities services; to inform the sector of mini-grid and productive use investment opportunities; to inform sector learning and best practices; and to showcase portfolio.
  • Manage team in the day-to-day operations of the Rural Energy Market Development work stream

Knowledge Management:

  • Establish a knowledge and learning platform to promote best practice sharing, raise awareness of productive use investment opportunity, and inform thought-leadership in the sector nationally and beyond.
  • Participate in the relevant Communities of Practice.
  • Knowledge of industry best practices
  • Support the Deputy Project Manager, Project Manager and Communications team in documenting and maintaining lessons learnt from the delivery of the Work Package for the purposes of knowledge sharing and continuous improvement in the delivery of similar activities

Personnel Management:

  • Establish a thorough understanding of UNOPS personnel contract modalities (i.e. ICA);
  • Support the selection, recruitment and training of the team as required by project plans
  • Perform Project Support role, unless appointed to another person or corporate/programme function

The Energy Portfolio Specialist is expected:

To develop and nurture relationships with key public, private, and social sector stakeholders to identify key challenges and opportunities across respective industries, value chains and development impact interventions where energy access is a key bottleneck.
To contribute to the strategic direction and vision of the Rural Energy Market Development work stream establishing an operational framework to guide roll-out of services and instruments outlined in the work stream framework
Ability to demonstrated quantitative skills
Integrity and ability to work in a dynamic team as well as to supervise other specialists.

Monitoring and Progress Controls:

  • Effective work package/ Work stream governance, and risk management
  • Timeliness and accuracy of reporting on Work package performance
  • Accuracy of Work package planning and delivery according to plans
  • Identification and implementation of continuous process improvement and risk management.


Provide support to ensure that the project produces the required products within the specified tolerance of time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits

Education/Experience/Language requirements:


  • Master’s Degree in Finance, Business Administration, Economic or a relevant discipline is required.
  • Bachelor’s Degree with a combination of two (2) additional years of relevant professional experience in Finance, Business Administration, Economic or other relevant discipline, may be accepted in lieu of the Advance University Degree.
  • Technical/professional diploma, in relevant discipline, in combination of four (4) additional years of experience maybe accepted in lieu of Advance University Degree.
  • Financial or Investment certification is desirable


  • A minimum of five (5) years of combined professional experience in market development, and/or business and investment advisory services and programmes is required.
  • Knowledge of the African power sector, including institutional, policy and regulatory issues with at least two (2) years of experience in developing countries is required.
  • A proven track-record of successfully bringing projects from idea/concept to implementation is an asset
  • Strong management consulting, market intelligence experience, business case development, and financial modelling is an asset.
  • Experience with private sector-led solutions to energy challenges is an added advantage
  • Experience in low income consumer energy markets, and productive use of energy is an added advantage
  • Working knowledge of the off-grid sector – mini-grids and standalone solar is an asset
  • Extensive business advisory experience in sub-Saharan Africa across sectors – energy, renewable energy (solar) etc; and with firms at various stages of growth is highly desirable
  • Demonstrated leadership experience managing project teams is an added advantage.
  • Demonstrated excellent partner and stakeholder management experience, building and maintaining relationships with private sector at various stages of growth, development agencies, and relevant public sector players is highly desirable.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite (i.e. PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Outlook) will be highly distinct

Language Requirement:

  • Full working knowledge (written and oral) of English is required.
  • Knowledge of other official UNOPS language is an asset.


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