Zeph Kivungi

Former Senior Associate

Zeph Kivungi joined The Rockefeller Foundation in March 2021 based in our Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya. Zeph is a Senior Associate for Country Programs in the Power and Climate initiative. Mr. Kivungi’s role focuses on identifying and developing high-impact opportunities in priority countries for the Foundation to invest towards Ending Energy Poverty in Africa, as well as on establishing partnerships to catalyze investments for increasing electricity access and consumption globally. With almost 700 million Africans being unserved or underserved by traditional grid infrastructure, Mr. Kivungi is part of the team developing and deploying country programs with a tailor-made blend of interventions through grants and investments aimed at realizing the full potential of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) solutions such as mini-grids and productive uses of energy for socioeconomic development.

Prior to joining The Rockefeller Foundation, Mr. Kivungi worked for Hivos International where he foresaw the energy portfolio in East Africa with such achievements as implementing the most successful mini-grid program in Africa at the time, delivering 16 mini-grids as part of 125 Multi-purpose Energy Service Centers in rural Tanzania. More recently, he was Head of Climate Finance in Africa at the Africa Sustainability Centre during which time he served as an adviser and consultant for International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United National Development Program (UNDP), UN Environment (UNEP), West African Development Bank and various government institutions in Africa.  This climate finance development work involved designing interventions to increase productivity and/or resilience mostly among smallholder farmers in such countries as Burundi, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Congo, Congo-DRC, among others. Some of the successful projects from his work include GCF-funded $40.4 million Mali-solar rural electrification project with a direct impact to 248.6k people, the $31.7 million Climate proofing food production investments in Imbo and Moso basins in Burundi impacting 573k people. Others, funded by the GEF, include Promoting Better Access to Modern Energy Services through Sustainable Mini-grids and Low-carbon Bioenergy Technologies Among Guinea-Bissau’s Forest-dependent Communities, and in Togo, Hybridization of Diesel Engines of Multifunctional Platforms with Solar Systems. Additionally, Zeph led the support of various African governments (Chad, Togo, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, etc.) on the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) to enhancing in-country capabilities for measurement, reporting, and verification systems for transition towards enhanced transparency framework (ETF) created under Paris Agreement. In these roles, he gained substantial project development and partner engagement experience and was involved in catalytic project to improve livelihoods either by bringing electricity to rural communities, or to protect their livelihoods from adverse effects of a changing climate, across Africa. His experience ranges in scope from Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) systems like mini-grids to productive uses of energy especially in agricultural value chains in rural Africa.

Mr. Kivungi holds a Masters in Sustainable Energy Technology from Glasgow Caledonian University and a certification for climate and renewable energy finance from Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. He earned his bachelors’ degree in chemical engineering from Moi University, with additional training from University of Oslo.