By Abigail Chaponda in London, United Kingdom
The Smith School at the University of Oxford,in collaboration with the Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town has selected Zambia as acase study for a project called RISE (Renewable Innovation Scale Energy) on renewable energy for rural electrification. The project will take 18 months to implement and will cost 700, 000 GBP.
And Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde has said that the link between rural household energy and women is often ignored when discussing renewable energy solutions and yet Women and Children are the most vulnerable groups when it comes to energy scarcity.
Speaking when he gave the key note address on “The Transformative Potential of Renewable energy solutions for Sub Saharan Africa” at the external stakeholders workshop to kick off project RISE on renewable energy for rural electrification in Zambia and Uganda on Thursday, High Commissioner Chikonde said Sub-Saharan Africa is the most energy deprived region in the world with less than 30 percent of the population having access to electricity compared with 65 percent in South Asia and more than 90 percent in East Asia.
He stated that apart from the common household chores of collecting firewood for cooking and heating the majority of rural women in Zambia are engaged in agricultural activities as well as micro-enterprises, therefore, the increase in use of alternative modern and clean energy technologies could relieve this burden on women. Programmes targeting women will assist many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa address the problem of rural poverty.
He advised that future renewable energy strategies for Sub-saharan Africa must be local resource driven with greater prominence to a wider range of renewables that offer more attractive opportunities for income generation and job creation with special consideration to Women and Youth.
He added that solar energy is a particularly attractive renewable option for Africa because it is naturally decentralized, available in huge supply, falling steadily in cost as the technology advances, immune from supply or price uncertainty and eligible for support from bilateral and multilateral institutions that are keen in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“As Sub-Saharan Africa is richly- endowed with solar energy resources suitable for Photovoltaic solar systems as well as for large scale thermal facilities, electrification of rural areas is essential for eliminating rural poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he remarked.
The High Commissioner also highlighted that the Zambian government has continued to reform the legislative and policy environment to allow private sector participation in grid extensions, scaled up solar projects, mini hydro and solar developments through the adoption of cost-reflective tariffs in order to attract private capital.
In the recent address to parliament His Excellency the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu stated that energy was one of the vital enablers for economic diversification and job creation. The President stated that The Zambian government’s commitment for the country to attain the status of being a net exporter of electricity is evidenced the various investments being made in the electricity sub-sector and with the renewed pledge for a better energy sector that supports the economy, the country is rapidly developing towards the attainment of energy for all 2030.
“Government is committed to facilitating access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for our people. This reinforces our resolve to achieve a smart Zambia”. The President said.
And An international research team led Dr. Aoife Brophy Haney from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and Saïd Business School has been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC)Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to carry out the project titled ‘Innovation and Scale: Enhanced energy access and local market development in sub-Saharan Africa’ where Zambia and Uganda will benefit.
The project team includes Dr Susann Stritzke, Dr Sarah McGill and Angelika Kaiser and Philipp Trotter from SSEE, as well as Professor Amos Madhopla, Dr Bothwell Batidzirai and Peter Twesigye from the University of Cape Town
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced developing countries.
GCRF forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which is monitored the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The interdisciplinary research project aims to design integrated, actionable and transferable development strategies for the local renewable energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
The research pursues three mutually reinforcing areas of inquiry: suitable business models for a competitive local renewable electrification industry; optimal institutional arrangements to facilitate the development of the industry; and enabling community involvement, especially in rural areas. Two contrasting national case studies, Uganda and Zambia, form the basis of the project.