Call for more investment in renewable energy

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Lusaka - Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC) have great potential for the production of renewable energy if well harnessed, and there is a need for more investment in the sector as the energy access by landlocked countries remains low to meet demand for both industry and domestic use.

Southern Africa is home to a number of landlocked countries, which include Botswana, Eswathini, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the just-concluded High-Level Seminar in Vienna, Austria, focusing on "Accelerating Sustainable Energy for all Landlocked Developing Countries through Innovative Partnerships",  Zambia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr Mwaba Kasese-Bota said LLDCs had for a long time been totally dependent on the export of raw material such as minerals and oil.

Kasese-Bota, who chairs the LLDCs Group, said: “The energy access for LLDCs remains very low. The average population access to electricity of 44 percent lags way behind the average for all developing countries which stands at 81 percent. We have been undertaking efforts to improve access to clean fuel and energy technologies.

“Yet, the share of population in our countries with access to these is only around 25 percent, less than half of the world average. Our energy efficiency is also much lower than in developing countries as a whole. Our countries hold great potential for the production of renewable energy, in particular that derived from hydropower, wind, sun and geothermal sources, yet energy investment in our countries continues to be low.”

Governments in LLDCs, she said, had embraced diversification and value addition that have high energy requirements.

 The Vienna Programme of Action stresses that access to affordable, reliable and renewable energy and related technologies is critically important in not only modernising information and communications technology and transit systems to reducing delays but also its vital importance in enhancing productive capacity of our countries to achieve sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

The importance of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative was well recognised in the Vienna Programme.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals were premised on adequate supply and access to clean energy by all, enough to meet the needs of every individual and sufficient to drive our individual national development aspirations.

Zambia’s energy sources include electricity, petroleum, coal, biomass, and renewable energy. It is only petroleum which is wholly imported in the country, while the country is basically self-sufficient in all the other energy resources, as it has substantial unexploited reserves of these forms of energy.

The country’s economy has been growing at an average of 5 percent per annum over the past 10 years and demand for energy has also been rising.  The demand for the most important energy source in the country,  electricity, has been growing at an average of about 3 percent per annum mainly due to the increased economic activity in the country especially in the agriculture, manufacturing and mining sectors, as well as increased activity in the region.

The demand for renewable energies has also seen significant growth in the recent years as the market explores alternative sources of energy, with renewable energies proving to be a viable alternative.

Zambia has about 6,000 MW unexploited hydro power potential, while only about 1,985 MW has been developed. On the other hand, the demand for power in the various sectors of the economy has grown rapidly over the years, adds data from the ministry of energy.

But Zambia’s quest to diversify its energy sources from hydro generation has continued to receive goodwill with some players offering to contribute their biofuel products to bolster renewable energy production.

Zambia Sugar Plc, a unit of Illovo Sugar Ltd., one of Africa's biggest sugar producers with extensive agricultural and manufacturing operations in six African countries, has offered to join hands with the country’s power producer, Zesco, to provide renewable energy to increase the sources from which the country can tap from as climate change effects take its toll.

Zambia presently relies on hydro power generation for its energy needs and with the increasing impact of climatic change on water reserves, there is an increasing threat that the Southern African country could face serious challenges in running its economy, chiefly the mines that consume 55 percent of the total 2,317 megawatts.

Zambia Sugar Operations manager Graham Rolfe told The Southern Times in Lusaka that the company was ready to partner with Zesco and provide biofuel to generate 40 thousand megawatts of electricity, enough to power Mazabuka district in southern Zambia, and the surrounding areas.

“Zambia sugar has the necessary natural resources to produce biofuel and it’s up to the ministry to consider our offer for biofuel products,” Rolfe stated, while urging the Ministry of Energy to provide an enabling environment for companies willing to invest in renewable energies.

Recently, a delegation from the Ministry of Energy toured the Zambia sugar production plant in Mazabuka to appreciate biofuels development.

Speaking during the event, Ministry of National Development and Planning assistant director, Mwila Daka, said government was holding consultative meetings with local and foreign stakeholders on how best government could revisit biofuel to reduce the cost of fuel in the country.

And Zambia Institute for Policy and Research executive director Pamela Nakamba stated that government had designed a clear road map to revisit renewable energy.

 

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