AFREPREN/FWD - Energy, Environment and Development Network for Africa Website
SOLAR ENERGY DISSEMINATION IN ZAMBIA -
Zambia like many Sub -Saharan
African Countries has a massive hydro power potential but only 18% of its
population has access to grid electricity while 68% rely on biomass.
Although there is also massive potential for renewable sources of energy,
these have remained largely untapped and this is demonstrated by the fact that
their usage is not reflected in the Energy Statistics Bulletin.
Among Zambia’s renewable energy sources are wind, solar, water,
geothermal and biomass.
As the economy steadily declines
and the national budget is unable to meet the costs of most capital projects
such as the numerous rural electrification projects all around the country,
renewable energy technologies provide a more economically viable option.
In Zambia, solar energy has
received prime attention. The
National Energy Policy document recognizes
the untapped potential; the inhibiting factors and has also provided a sub
sector policy to promote its development. The
notable achievements have been a tax rebate for the year 1994, which is being
pursued again for the next budget year. The
Department of Energy also managed to provide seven photovoltaic solar systems in
rural areas under the first phase of the Solar Energy Programme through the
Rural Electrification fund. While the European Union, has assisted the Ministry of
Health install more than 200 solar energy systems.
Finally the Swedish Development Agency has also decided to fund a project
on a pilot scheme in the rural Eastern Province of Zambia.
This project entails setting up Electricity Supply Companies (ESCO”S)
to be operated by local entrepreneurs. They
have also been funding solar energy activities at UNZA including the setting up
of a lab.
In January 1997, an autonomous,
Energy Regulatory Board was established through Chapter 436 of the laws of
Zambia. It has the mandate to
regulate the solar energy industry, which among others includes; price
regulation, development and monitoring of technical standards through a
license-based system. Other Quasi
Government institutions that are involved in solar energy activities are the
University of Zambia. Non
Governmental Organizations include the Centre for Energy, Engineering and
Environment and the newly established Solar Energy Society of Zambia.
The private sector participation in
solar energy dissemination dates back to the years before the National Energy
Policy was formulated. Among the
leading suppliers are: BP Solar, a subsidiary of BP Zambia LTD; Renewtech LTD,
Suntech Appropriate Technologies (the only local manufacturers) and many other
distributing companies. The
beneficiaries were mostly missionaries, churches, the national railways, farmers
etc. With the liberalization policy
more private entrepreneurs have entered the market as distributors of solar
One of the major complaints of the
suppliers has been the high import cost while the major complaint of consumers
is the lack of back up services, spare parts and poor performance of systems.
It is envisaged that the Government initiatives and policy framework will
assist in eradicating a potential hindrance to the promotion of wider use of
solar energy. It is also
encouraging to note that members of parliament and other stakeholders are
interested in solar energy, filling in the energy gaps where possible.
Increasing awareness level and capacity building in the country to manufacture and maintain solar energy systems are other areas of concern. A formidable regulatory authority and performance testing centre are also essential for consumer protection, if solar energy is to improve the standards of living for those who do not have access to better forms of energy.
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