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Capacity Building for Renewable Energy SMEs in Africa: Zambia Country Report (Final Draft)


Lloyd C. Ngo


This short assignment has been undertaken on behalf of AFREPREN for the regional project that aims at promoting renewable (mainly biomass-based cogeneration, small hydro, wind and solar energy) and energy efficiency in several Eastern and Southern African countries. The overall development objective of the project is using renewable energy to strengthen existing and embryonic SMEs, agro-industries, tourist entities and rural institutions. The report gives an overview of the renewable energy industry in Zambia and identifies potential beneficiaries and key stakeholders.

Zambia is a land-locked country located in southern Africa, with the area of 752,614 square kilometres. The country share borders with the following eight countries: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) and Tanzania to the north; Malawi and Mozambique to the east; Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south; Namibia to the south-west and Angola to the west.

Hydroelectric plants represent 99 percent of electricity production in the country with the major sources being Kafue Gorge, Kariba North Bank and Victoria Falls Power Stations. With a projected electricity demand growth estimated at 100 MW per annum, the country has already started experiencing power deficit. The mines consume up to 68 percent of total national electricity, industry and commerce 4 percent, households 19 percent, agriculture and forestry 2 percent while the remaining 7 percent is taken up by government services [1].

Renewable energy sources are increasingly being used but still remain insignificant in terms of contribution to the total national energy supply. These sources have great potential for electricity production but despite this potential, in relative terms, Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) and small-scale energy systems have high investment capital costs, which need guarantees of long-term stable income streams to ensure financial viability. The major challenges facing the renewable energy sector are the high initial capital cost, availability of few specialized Technicians, low renewable energy technology awareness, lack of incentives to facilitate effective private-public partnership and the lack of a comprehensive institutional frame work to promote renewable energy production and utilization. Other barriers include unavailability of data on the resource potential or the production and consumption of these resources.

Biomass energy, wood fuel in particular, significantly contributes to total national energy consumption. Woodlands and forests are estimated to cover about 50 million hectares or 66 percent of Zambia's total land area. The main sources of woodfuel are natural woodlands and agricultural lands. Given the very low income levels and the abundance of wood resources, it is foreseen that woodfuel (firewood and charcoal) would continue to dominate Zambia’s energy consumption.

Sugar cane another source of biomass based cogeneration is being grown in three provinces and processed by three different companies with a projected capacity of 483,000 tonnes of sugar per year. At present no ethanol is being produced by the main sugar growing companies but Lee Yeast Ltd in Kafue (Lusaka Province) produces ethanol from molasses purchased from Zambia Sugar Plc.

Zambia has a number of potential sites on smaller rivers suitable for local small-scale power generation. The most advantageous places for such development are in the North-Western and the Northern parts of the country, because of the topography of the terrain, the geology of the ground and the high rainfall figures.

Zambia has about 6-8 hours of sunshine daily. The potential energy output for solar is 4.35kWh/m2/day. There is great potential that exists for both solar thermal and solar PV. The potential for solar thermal can be used for drying and water heating.

At an average speed of 2.5 metres per second, the wind regime in Zambia can mainly be used for water pumping for household use and irrigation. However, in areas were the wind speeds is above 5 meters per second, the wind regime can be used for electricity generation. There are currently no major projects in this area but potential sites have been identified for pilot projects.

Energy Management refers to the control and use of energy efficiently in industry and domestic applications aimed at reducing energy consumption without sacrificing productivity or increasing costs. At present, very little is being done in the area of energy management in Zambia. It is therefore an area that has great potential to reduce energy demand.

[1] Situational Analysis of small hydropower stations in Zambia, Ministry of Energy and Water Development, 2008.

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