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Rural Energy Access: Promoting Solar Home Systems In Rural Areas In Zambia A Case Study 

O.S. Kalumiana

Department of Energy, Ministry of Energy & Water Development, P.O. Box 51254, Lusaka ZAMBIA; Tel: ++260-1-254491, Fax:++260-1-254491;

Email: Oksibote@zamnet.zm


Abstract

With about 60% of the Zambian population living in rural areas and only 2% of the rural population having access to electricity, the Government has prioritised rural electrification. A pilot project intended to develop a mechanism for providing electricity services to rural households is currently using Solar Home Systems, which are run by rural based Energy Service Companies (ESCOs). Each beneficiary household pays a monthly average service fee of about US$8. Payment of service fees is on average more than 80% of ESCO expected income. When compared to agricultural credit schemes in the same area, the level of service fees paid is very high.

 At current service fee levels, there is great market potential for commercial driven SHS. From these results, preliminary conclusions have been made: a) the capital cost for SHS need to be subsidized to enable rural people access PV services; b) a substantial number of rural households who desire SHS are able and willing to pay the service fee, which in some cases is higher than that paid by urban electricity consumers, and; c) technical expertise can be built at rural level to ensure long service time of SHS.  These preliminary findings are being used to drive policy for rural energy service access as well as further refine the ESCO concept as an option for rural electrification in Zambia.

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