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Occasional  Paper 4: Energy for Rural Development in Zimbabwe- Proceedings of a National Policy Seminar

Edited by

Mr. Maxwell Mapako


Executive Summary

AFREPREN/FWD has, over the years, been refining its efforts to improve its outreach to the African energy community. Consequently, in 1999, the AFREPREN/FWD Annual General Assembly in 1999 decided to convene annual national policy seminars in the programme countries, through national focal points elected by each country group of researchers. The purpose of these seminars is to enhance AFREPREN/FWDS efforts to disseminate its findings as well as solicit feedback from the national stakeholders.

The national energy policy seminar in Zimbabwe was centred on one of AFREPREN/FWDs theme areas namely, Renewables and Energy for Rural Development. Among the invited participants, there was great interest in knowing more about AFREPREN/FWD. As a result, considerable time was spent in outlining the nature, structure and governance of the organisation. AFREPREN/FWD publications were subsequently distributed to all participants, who were also referred to the AFREPREN/FWD Website as a way of keeping abreast with developments within the organisation.

The terms of reference for the Renewables and Energy for Rural Development theme group was presented. The country study is divided into two parts, namely: the short and medium-term.  The short-term study focuses on the public sector efforts in the dissemination of renewables and energy for rural development, while the medium term phase will address the private sector efforts in the provision of modern energy to rural areas.

One of the key issues noted by the participants was the difficulty country researchers would face in quantifying indicators such as vigour and political commitment in energy policy implementation.  Discussions also raised questions related to the AFREPREN/FWD research agenda.

The Department of Energy presented the draft national energy policy document, which is currently being used as the de facto policy guideline. Two other strategy documents, the National Biomass Energy Strategy and the Energy For Rural Development Strategy were also presented for discussion.

The seminar agreed that the Zimbabwe national energy policy document was concise and comparatively good. It was felt that the AFREPREN/FWD seminar came at an opportune time to allow for focused contributions, that would assist DoE to fine tune the energy policy document. Group discussions on day two focused on issues relating to the energy policy document and on SMEs.

The need for harmonization of the presently fragmented energy legislation was found to be an urgent issue. The overall approach that was recommended was to look at the rural development problems and define the role of the various ministries of Government from that perspective. It was noted that the Governments ability to fund activities was growing smaller, and that this should be borne in mind while planning. Privatisation, currently in vogue, was not seen as an automatic route to lower prices and increased efficiency.

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