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Renewables for Poverty Reduction in Africa - A Summary for Policy Makers


AFREPREN/FWD Secretariat

Executive Summary

Renewable energy technologies can play a major role in providing clean and improved energy services to the majority of the population in the Eastern and Horn of Africa region who are poor, while providing additional social and economic benefits. Despite the benefits that renewables offer to countries in the region, the levels of dissemination have not been significant.

In an effort to address the aforementioned challenge, AFREPREN and HBF (Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa) launched a study in May 2003, whose main objectives were to:

  • Examine the viability of 10% renewables target proposed at the Johannesburg WSSD Summit in selected African Countries

  • Assess the benefits and drawbacks of the 10% renewables target in Eastern Africa

The study was carried out from May 2003 to October 2004. Due to limited time and resources, the thematic focus of the study was on the contribution of two medium scale renewable energy technologies (geothermal and cogeneration) on the electricity sector. The study was undertaken in 4 countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. In parallel to the country studies, a regional report was also prepared.  The study also included national level consultations in the 4 countries, as well as regional consensus building and brainstorming on the regionís priorities for renewables.

Some of the key findings from the study were:

  • Geothermal and cogeneration potential in East and Horn of Africa is significant, and can contribute to over 10% of the regionís electricity needs

  • The development of geothermal and cogeneration could yield significant economic and social benefits to countries in the region (e.g. forex savings, security of supply, job creation, poverty alleviation).

  • Barriers to the development of these technologies need to be addressed

The studies in this 1st phase of the project provided illustrative data on the potential contribution of renewables to the regions electricity sector.  The study findings were well received at national and regional policy seminars where the findings were disseminated.  Many policy makers noted that the data and information compiled by the study was unique, especially in its attempt to quantify the economic and financial benefits of cogeneration and geothermal.

A key issue raised by various stakeholders was the need to focus on renewables that have a direct impact on poverty alleviation. They highlighted the rising poverty levels in Africa and the growing interest in small and medium-scale renewables that have a potential of reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs.  In response to this, Phase 2 of the study was planned, and focussed on assessing the impact of small/medium, low-cost and locally manufactured renewables on poverty alleviation.  The overall objective of the study was to assess the role of small/medium-scale renewables in poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and economic development.

 The major findings of the project are summarised in this report.

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