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Executive Summary

The Renewables and Energy for Rural Development Theme Group meeting was held from the 30th October - 1st November, 1999.  The aim of this meeting was to review country research proposals received from members of the Theme Group from various Eastern and Southern Africa countries and to assess the relevance of the issues they intend to address to the region's energy sector.  To assist in reviewing the proposed research issues raised in the proposals stakeholders from various institutions in the region were invited.

The participants to the Renewables and Energy for Rural Development Theme Group meeting were drawn from six countries, namely: Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia  and Zimbabwe, and comprised senior policy makers in government, a representative from a grassroots women’s organization, a representative from a financial institution and  energy researchers (members of AFREPREN/FWD's Renewables and Energy for Rural Development Theme Group).

The meeting's main objectives included:

  • Presentation of refined country proposals and country data sets by members.

  • Review of  proposed priority research issues with the assistance of invited external stakeholders from the region.

  • Further refinement of country proposals in response to suggestions and recommendations of invited stakeholders.

  • Drafting a workplan for the Theme Group.

The objective of the Renewables and Energy for Rural Development Theme Group is to identify options for the provision of modern energy services to low-income rural areas of Africa with special emphasis on commercial/service/productive uses of energy.  To achieve this, the group intends  to focus in the first year on:

  • Assessing the  current rural household and community energy practices and technologies

  • Analysing the impact of current rural energy policies

  • Reviewing rural income generating activities and energy technologies used

  • Establishing what is hindering the removal of identified barriers in the dissemination of RETs (e.g. absence of rural entrepreneurs, funding mechanisms, capacity building and policy)

Proposed Areas of focus for Country Research Studies

The participants agreed to focus on two main areas:

I.                     Review of rural energy policies and programmes - Identify gaps and omissions in existing rural energy policy documents and propose recommendation for implementation of rural energy policies that enhance effective provision of energy services to rural enterprises to increase incomes and employment opportunities.

II.                   Assessment of small rural enterprises - In addition, each principle researcher will examine energy intensities of various small rural enterprises,(about 10 enterprises), identify energy intensive enterprises and do an in-depth study on one of the enterprises to identify options for improving energy provision and increase incomes and employment opportunities in rural areas of Africa.

The following are the specific issues that each country agreed to focus on based on recommendations and suggestions of invited stakeholders:

Zimbabwe - Past rural energy initiatives and reasons for their failure;  small and medium sized rural enterprises and correlation of productivity to provision of non-grid and efficient forms of energy.

Zambia - The performance of rural energy programmes that are targeted at women groups and those that are targeted at non-women groups and the extent to which the emphasis on gender impacts on performance.

The institutional structure of the rural energy policy in Zambia will also be examined and the researcher will propose ways of enhancing existing institutional arrangements as well as options for removing barriers to effective implementation of energy policies.

Eritrea -Decentralized/non-grid forms of energy and their role in developing  small and medium enterprises. 

Botswana - Rural energy initiatives will be assessed and reasons for their poor performance assessed.  The potential developmental role of PV in small and medium enterprises will also be examined.

Ethiopia - Barriers to the introduction of RETs will be examined, with one barrier being studied in-depth.  Existing rural energy policies and their shortcomings in addressing rural energy needs will also be reviewed.

South Africa - The current institutional framework and its role in the integration in provision of energy and other development services to low income households and enterprises will be analyzed.  Women’s participation in energy activities and their ownership of energy enterprises will also be addressed.

AFREPREN/FWD Secretariat - In addition to compiling the various country reports into a regional report, the secretariat would also carry out a technical assessment of Renewable Energy Technologies in Africa as well as collect data on critical mass numbers for RETs.

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