Alliance for Rural Electrification and SIAZ sign deal to boost energy access with renewables in Zambia

ZAMBIA – The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) and the Solar Industry Association of Zambia (SAIZ), have joined forces to improve global energy access for at least 500 million people, create over five million green jobs, and avoid at least one billion tons of CO2e emissions by 2030.

The two bodies aim to achieve this by promoting renewable energy technologies, such as household and mini-grid solar solutions, especially in rural areas with little access to electricity.

The Brussels-based ARE has also signed similar agreements in Benin, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, and Cameroon.

During the second edition of the Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa (SEFEA) on 22-24 June 2021, ARE and the East African Centre of Excellence for Renewable Energy and Efficiency (EACREEE) found that the main challenge in Africa is connecting project suppliers with investors.

The MoU aims to address this and SIAZ and ARE have said they will work together with the Zambian Development Agency (ZDA), which is mandated to develop and oversee investment trade in the country and energy is one of the critical sectors ZDA plans to develop, with a key focus on renewables.

According to research conducted by GET.invest, clean energy investment volumes grew between 2017 and 2018 from £52.8 million to £62.8 million and in that same period, foreign capital accounted for 79% and 83% of total clean energy investment, respectively.

Decentralized solar energy

The agreement will include joint advocacy to create a sustainable decentralized solar energy market and SIAZ is leading the way by shaping a public sector-led off-grid task force and has redrafted the fiscal exemptions for solar products by removing import duties and VAT for solar equipment.

SIAZ is also working closely with the Ministry of Energy, the Off-grid Taskforce Secretariat, and the Ministry of Finance to improve regulations and tariffs in the country.

The MoU is the result of virtual study tours carried out by ARE, SolarPower Europe, and the National Renewable Energy Association, and supported by the European Program GET.invest.

A spokesperson for ARE told PV magazine, “The results focused on knowledge exchange of best practices between African and EU associations on how to run associations and how to address common challenges, including fundraising and member acquisition and retention, policy development and adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Networking between national renewable energy associations from Africa and Europe and the facilitation of potential partnerships and future joint activities were also discussed.

The associations have said they will work together on a number of activities, continued the spokesperson, including joint advocacy to create a conducive and enabling environment for a sustainable decentralized renewable energy market, and to promote the use of renewable energy technologies in Zambia by means of knowledge and information dissemination, networking between public and private stakeholders, institutional capacity building as well as targeted business development and market intelligence support for decentralized renewable energy (DRE) companies.

Specifically, they aim to cooperate on targeted skills development and capacity-building activities for renewable energy stakeholders in Zambia to create local jobs and enhance the capacity of the sector to raise increased financing for renewable energy projects and businesses.

This will be achieved by spearheading in-person or virtual “DRE Investment Academies” or similar training for Zambian and international DRE project developers and other stakeholders, with the aim to provide additional fundraising and technical support.

Lastly, the MoU states that the partners will support services for Zambian renewable energy actors who work to address energy access, energy security and climate change challenges in Zambia and conduct research to foster the market for renewable energy technologies.

Commitment

The government of Zambia has reiterated its commitment to delivering universal electricity access for all Zambians by 2030.

Overall, it aims to deploy 500 MW of solar PV by 2023, in order to further reduce the country’s chronic power shortages.

The southern African nation currently relies on 2.8 GW of installed power, around 85% of which comes from hydropower and its access to electricity is about 31%.

In March 2021, Zambian energy company Greenco Power Services Limited (Greenco), a unit of Mauritius-based Africa Greenco Group, announced it was seeking independent power producers (IPPs) for a pilot PV project with a capacity ranging from 10 to 40 MW that is planned for an unspecified location in Zambia.

“The pilot project is likely to be the first project in Zambia to take advantage of the new open-access regime introduced by the government of Zambia under the Electricity Act 2019 and the Energy Regulation Act 2019,” said the company in a statement issued at the time.

SIAZ is excited to have this formal partnership with ARE. We are confident that this partnership will help the solar industry and its members create an enabling environment for a sustainable decentralized solar energy market and promote renewable energy technologies in Zambia,” said SIAZ chairperson, Matanda Mwewa.

“SIAZ recognizes that the industry has challenges, but in those challenges, there also lie opportunities. We believe that the partnership between SIAZ and ARE will have a mutually beneficial feedback loop, which will allow both to learn from each other and develop next-generation solutions that will shape the future for Zambia and Africa at large,” he continued.

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