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Renewable and Energy for Rural Development in Zambia: Short Term Draft Report


Mr. Abel Mbewe


This final draft report reviews the current status of rural energy initiatives vis-à-vis government’s and utilities policies, programmes and institutional structures that affect the provision of modern energy services to the rural areas with particular emphasis on the small and medium scale enterprises.

The approach and methodology used in the study involved collection and analysis of primary and secondary data; case studies were also used in the analysis. In addition, field surveys, interviews with senior government and utility officials and some beneficiaries of modern rural energy services were conducted. The following are some of the major findings:

·commitment was lacking. Lack of disbursement of funds, ineffective administration of the Rural Electrification Fund and other lack of adherence to mechanisms for checks and balances contributed to failure of rural energy initiatives.

  • Some of the rural welfare projects failed because beneficiaries did not observe simple operational procedures. In addition, lack of maintenance was cited as one of the key reasons for failure.

  • Lack of appreciation and participation in the decision making process by the beneficiaries of some of the technologies led to the failure of some projects.

  • The energy delivery system is ineffective. Energy planning is highly centralized with no institutional structures at local level for supervising of rural energy initiatives.

The study concluded that political commitment for delivery of modern energy systems to the rural areas is lacking and that rural energy initiatives fail because they are not implemented with vigour. Further, provision of modern energy services targeted at income-generating activities had a better rate of success than welfare focused projects. Policy on rural energy was inadequate and the absence of gender dimension in the energy policy did constrain the dissemination of rural energy technologies to the rural areas.

To minimize failure of rural energy initiatives, government could consider some of the following policy options:

  1. Government and the utility should give up the responsibility of planning and implementing of rural electrification projects. An autonomous agency with sole responsibility of planning, designing and implementing rural electrification projects be created.

  2. Government should also give up the promotion of renewable energy technologies based energy supply to the rural areas and consider the participation of the private sector. The government should provide incentives for commercialisation to a few carefully selected renewable energy technologies based on technical and economic viability under the current conditions prevailing in the rural areas.

Representatives of communities, local entrepreneurs and rural based NGOs should be involved in the planning, designing and implementation of future government led rural energy initiatives to promote the viability of energy for use in the rural areas for household, welfare and income generating activities.

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