Maximilian Musumali works as secretary in Zarena. Zarena stands for Zambia Renewable Energy Agency. It has been created this month of August. It’s a company “limited by guarantee”. It has the structure of a non-profit association, but it’s much faster to be built. The goal of Zarena is to channel the motivation for Renewable Energy development. It aims at creating a link between international companies (many of them South African) and local institutions for the installation of RE here. Only 25% of Zambian companies are on internet, so the role of Zarena is very useful. The members pay a subscription (it’s the way of funding Zarena) and have access to its database, and to the events it will organise, or to exclusive discounts between members. There are now about 20 members.

Electricity production in Zambia

99% of the electricity in Zambia is comes from hydro! The current need is of 2300MW, and the demand is increasing very quickly: it should double in 2016, to reach 4000MW. And the production has problems to follow the increase in need, so it’s quite usual to suffer power cuts. Hopefully, the demand can be met without building fossile fuel power plants. Only 18.8% of the population is connected to the grid.

Zesco is the parastatal electric company of Zambia. It produces 80% of its electricity, and is in charge also of the transport and distribution. The two main dams are the Kariba dam (producing about 720MW for the Zambian part, and the same quantity for the Zimbabwean part) and the Kafue Gorge Power station (990MW). The Kariba dam is being upgraded to produce more than 1000MW. The third power station is the Victoria Falls one, that we tried to visit in Livingstone, with 108MW. Another power company is the private Copperbelt Energy Corporation, which supplies energy to the mines in the province of Copperbelt.

Since Zambia is among the 20 poorest countries of the world, there is no money to build big infrastructures (in fact, the Kariba dam is rehabilitated with funds from the European Union). Therefore, the most intelligent way to generate electricity is to use decentralised energy production.

Towards renewable energy

In Africa, many things move on Aid. Since 2006, the main reason for help was the fight against HIV. Now, it has evolved to be more about family planning, circumcision, malaria fighting. In the next years, it’ll be more focused to renewable energy.

Soon, the Ministry of Water, Mines and Energy will release feed-in tariffs for solar energy. These tariffs are funded by the government, with the support of the United Nations.

The government wants to foster the “biofuels”, by introducing 5% of ethanol in the fuel, and in a few years, this rate should increase to 20%. A transformation plant of 100M$ is planned to be built is the North East of Zambia, working on cassava. Like this, the production of biofuel does not compete with edible crops.

Zambia has a huge potential in hydroelectricity. 40% of the water supply in Southern Africa is in Zambia. Zambia has the potential of becoming an exporter of electricity and technology related to hydro.