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Grid and off-grid rural electrification and poverty alleviation: Lessons from Zimbabwe. Presented at the EUEI facilitation workshop and policy dialogue 12-15 April 2005 Maputo, Mozambique Maxwell C Mapako. Presentation structure. Country introduction

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Grid and off-grid rural electrification and poverty alleviation: Lessons from Zimbabwe

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Grid and off grid rural electrification and poverty alleviation lessons from zimbabwe l.jpg

Grid and off-grid rural electrification and poverty alleviation: Lessons from Zimbabwe

Presented at the EUEI facilitation workshop and policy dialogue

12-15 April 2005

Maputo, Mozambique

Maxwell C Mapako


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Presentation structure

Country introduction

Background to rural grid electrification

Selected fuel use patterns and the poor

Overview off-grid electrification

Status of PV systems


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Zimbabwe selected facts

  • Population ~13m

  • Area 398 000 sq km

  • Grid extension and pvt sales of solar home systems nationwide

  • JICA Study Project was national but limited in geogr. coverage

  • Chinese donation was in one locality north of Harare.


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Rural Electrification (RE) background

  • Colonial legacy of neglect of the rural poor 1890-1980

  • Independence in 1980. New government faced with high expectations

  • Thrust to electrify all rural growth points & service centres started in the early 1980’s

  • 1995 RE Masterplan Study (ADB-funded), approved by Cabinet in 1997

  • GEF funded Solar PV project ran 1993-1998

  • JICA Energy Service Company (PV) study 1997-2002

  • 2002 new Electricity Act passed: commercialisation of electricity utility (ZESA), setting up of RE Agency with own board having majority of Provincial Administrators

  • RE Agency embarked on the Expanded RE Programme, funded by levy on electricity tariffs (rose 1%-6% in last 5 years) and government allocations


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Expanded rural electrification programme in Zimbabwe

  • Rural electrification agency (REA) separate unit of utility

  • Tariff levy proceeds directly available to REA, does not go to treasury

  • Criteria for selecting eligible rural centres include proximity to grid and economic potential

  • Funding windows for community groups

  • Utility can procure hardware for productive rural end use, eg. grinding mills, welding machines, oil presses…

  • Utility can provide financing for the equipment, or end user can make own arrangements. This facility has recently started to be implemented


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Electrification and the poor: Zimbabwe

  • High income households dominate the grid and solar electrified categories. Poor unable to satisfy project screening criteria

  • Poor households show the opposite trend, being mostly unelectrified


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Main cooking energy source

  • Grid-electrified rural households generally use electricity for cooking

  • The non-electrified (poorer) households use wood for cooking


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Main fuels used by grid-electrified rural households in SA (Limpopo)

Grid elect used predominantly for lighting, radio, TV

Thermal needs still met with wood (71% for cooking)

Other fuels insignificant


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South Africa grid

Includes households

Govt subsidy for h/holds

Plans not easily available

Primary focus on household use

South Africa off-grid PV

Predominantly fee for service in concession areas

Also sales

Zimbabwe grid

Focus on rural centres and institutions

6% levy on tariff for rural elect

Plans, criteria, published

Specific measures to support productive end uses

Zimbabwe off-grid PV

Predominantly sales outside any projects

Also fee for service & donation

Rural electrification approaches in South Africa and Zimbabwe


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Main lighting fuel by electrification category: Zimbabwe rural hholds

Poorer rural households depend on paraffin for lighting

Grid and solar electrified households use electric lighting


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Summary of major solar PV dissemination initiatives in Zimbabwe


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Summary of income–generating activities benefiting from SHSs


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Operational status of systems covered in the BUN/JICA/DoE Survey


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Experiences with solar home systems

  • Solar home systems were not accessed by the poor

  • The power capacity of solar home systems renders them unable to contribute significantly to most productive activities/poverty alleviation

  • Maintenance often becomes the major challenge after end of projects – localised maintenance capacity essential

  • Clustering of installations will facilitate maintenance & fee collection

  • Need for capacity building for local manufacturers - local components were less reliable

  • Use local components as far as possible (especially BOS) – long term availability of imported components may not be guaranteed

  • Shortage of correct components will lead to substitution with any available equivalents eg. car batteries and incandescent lights – solar home systems severely compromised

  • Flexibility is needed since rural population is heterogeneous - one size fits all approach in fee for service projects led to client frustration

  • Have clear contracts - revision of ESCO fees problematic


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Environmental benefits of SHSs:Some comments

  • How many solar systems installed compared to the investment in the project? Could other options not have provided more long-term and reliable access for less or similar investment?

  • What percentage of households has managed to switch completely from using candles and paraffin for lighting? What are the candle or paraffin consumption levels of those who have switched partially? Many promotional environmental calculations use full–switch assumptions.

  • What is the average downtime of the solar systems? Whenever the systems are not working the users revert to their paraffin lamps or candles

  • For those systems working, what percentage is working fully and partially?

  • Lead and Mercury environmental hazards: How are old batteries and light tubes disposed of? Recycling provisions?


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Thank you for your attention!


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