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Zimbabwe National Energy Policy Seminar Proceedings

By

Maxwell C. Mapako


Executive Summary

AFREPREN/FWD has over the years been refining its efforts to address the energy policy research needs of the African community. This has required the evolution f its areas of research in line with changing demands as can be seen from the reseach projects of the 1990-1994, 1995-1999 and 1999-2002 periods. In line with these efforts, the 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 the two way process whereby AFREPREN/FWD disseminates its findings and current objectives while obtaining feedback from the national stakeholders.

The national energy policy seminar in Zimbabwe was centered on the Renewables and energy for rural development theme. It was found that there was considerable interest on knowing about AFREPREN/FWD among invited participants. Considerable time was therefore spent outlining the nature, structure and governance of AFREPREN/FWD, and some discussion ensued. AFREPREN/FWD publications were subsequently distributed to all participants, who were also referred to the AFREPREN/FWD Website as a way to keep abreast with developments within AFREPREN/FWD.

The terms of reference for the Renewables and energy for rural development theme group was presented next. The theme group study is divided into two phases, short and medium term, with the short term study focussing on the public sector efforts in the dissemination of Renewables and energy for rural development, while the medium term phase also looks at private sector efforts. A total of five hypotheses are being tested, namely

Short term Hypotheses

  1. Rural energy initiatives by governments and utilities have failed/are

    - failing, because they were/are

    - not backed by full political commitment, and/or

    - not implemented with vigour, and/or

    - welfare focussed, an/or

    - uneconomic, and/or

    - not targeted at income generating activities.

  2. Government’s and utilities’ institutional framework was/is not appropriate to the design and implementation of rural energy initiatives.

Medium Term Hypotheses

  1. Decentralised, private sector energy production and distribution have a better rate of success that centralised public sector initiatives in delivering modern energy to rural households and for income generating activities.

  2. Income generating activities have greater impact than domestic use in promoting the delivery of modern energy to rural areas.

  3. Of all existing and potentially possible components for the promotion of RETs geared to income generating activities in rural areas, some are far more critical than others and therefore need priority attention and action.
     

Comments clearly noted the difficulty participants anticipated for the researchers in the quantification of some of the issues such as vigour and political commitment. Discussion also touched on the definition of the AFREPREN/FWD research agenda, which linked back to the presentation on AFREPREN/FWD earlier.

The Department of Energy outlined the national energy policy document. Although this was not final, it was made clear that the draft was at the moment being used as the de facto policy. Linked to the national energy policy were two evolving strategy documents, the National Biomass Energy Strategy and the Energy For Rural Development Strategy.

After some discussion it was agreed that the Zimbabwe national energy policy document was concise and comparatively good. Drafts were with various stakeholders as part of efforts to finalise the document. It was felt that this 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 legislation that touches on energy 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 viewpoint. It was noted that government’s ability to fund activities was growing increasingly smaller and that this should be borne in mind in planning. Privatisation, currently in vogue, was not seen as an automatic route to lower prices and higher efficiencies.


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