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Zambia National Policy Seminar Report


Langiwe Chandi, Abel Mbewe and Charles Mulenga

Executive Summary

Zambia as a country is well endowed with energy resources. The energy sources include electricity (mainly hydro), petroleum, coal, wood fuel (firewood and charcoal) and new and Renewable sources of energy such as mini hydros, solar and wind energy. Petroleum is the only energy source that is wholly imported and its importation accounts for over 10% of total foreign exchange earnings.

Although Zambia has excess installed capacity of about 1708 MW and an estimated hydro power potential of 6000 MW only about 20% of the population has access to electricity. Wood fuel in form of firewood and charcoal remains the dominant source of energy for households providing over 70% 0f total national energy needs. New and Renewable sources of Energy despite their massive potential remain largely untapped.  

Although the rural electrification programme has been in place since the colonial era, the pace has been very slow. In 1991 several measures were introduced when a new Government was ushered in to try and enhance the programme. These measures include introduction of rural electrification guidelines and a rural electrification levy on all bills, which has been revised several times and now stands at 3% of all consumers’ bills. In recognition of the role of renewable energy sources and technologies in rural development the government has incorporated solar energy in the rural electrification programmes. The Government has also received support in disseminating renewable energy technologies in rural areas. For the urban poor the Government has embarked on a township electrification programme. However in a country with an ailing economy, high inflation and high prices amidst low disposable incomes, these efforts face a lot of hardships hence the need to identify means of increasing access to energy in a sustainable manner. It was with this background that the Zambia National Energy Stakeholders workshop was held.

The Zambia National Policy Seminar was held from 14-15 October at ZEBRA Guest House in Lusaka, Zambia. The seminar drew over twenty – five workshop participants from various organizations including, research institutions, financing organizations, government ministries and organizations and non governmental organizations among others.

The workshop methodology included paper presentations and group work. There were three resource persons who presented papers covering the following topics:

  • Background on AFREPREN/FWD and its activities in Zambia

  • Energy Policy Measures, Strategies and programmes for rural development and the urban poor

  •  A country research proposal under the theme “Renewables and Energy for Rural Development “

  • The Gender Dimension of Renewables and Energy for Rural Development.

There were three groups. One group focused on how to strengthen the research proposals and the other two focused on the gender aspect and energy technologies for rural development respectively.

Arising from the discussions, key recommendations were identified under the two country proposals that were presented. The recommendations were centred on improvement of the actual study and also how to provide ideas on how to address the problems identified in the study.

There was a general feeling that AFREPREN/FWD needed to do more to create more awareness about its existence and activities. The Department of Energy was also requested to disseminate information on energy activities and especially those on renewable energy. For the gender perspective, the main recommendations were cross cutting and they included improving literacy, redressing imbalances in decision making and introduction of innovative lending mechanisms. The recommendations enhancing of energy technologies in the rural areas also hinged on provision of credit, tax incentives and ensuring that the Rural Electrification Fund reached the intended target group. The need for capacity building and introduction of research and development was also raised.

In terms of the actual proposals, it was recommended that the proposal that dealt with the gender perspective should include a needs assessment survey to determine the energy needs of the poor and also the ability of the poor to pay for the recommended energy services. On energy technology issues, it was recommended that the study should have a target group and also focus on empowering existing businesses. It was also recommended that the study should clearly address the issue of the utilities partnership in relationship with government.

Overall it was felt that the proposed studies were of relevance but needed to be undertaken wit more involvement of the stakeholders at each stage.

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