CITIZENS in the low-income bracket have something to smile about following the launch of a market-oriented and result-based Financing Fund for Zambia.
The initiative was launched yesterday by the Zambian Government in collaboration with its Swedish counterpart.
The programme dubbed, “Power Africa Beyond the Grid for Zambia (BGFZ)”
is a Swedish initiative with an initial allocation of €20 million aimed at bringing affordable and high quality renewable energy to be accessed in the rural Zambia.
This is expected to accelerate the private sector growth in energy generation and distribution in these areas which have been grappling with lack of sustainable energy sources.
The fund is aimed at increasing energy access, improving livelihoods and catalysing economic activity in the rural and peri-urban areas.
It is a well known fact that electricity is a key factor for increasing low income earner’s opportunities to support themselves by obtaining work and running productive businesses.
However, hundreds of millions of people not only in Zambia but in the entire
Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole live without electricity.
About 90 per cent of rural Zambians are said to have no access to clean and modern energy services, making economic development almost impossible.
Hence, the aim by the project to double access to electricity by enabling massive number of new electricity connections for homes and businesses around the country is a great one.
To be able to achieve this, Power Africa launched Beyond the Grid for Zambia, a sub-initiative focused on investment and growth for off-grid, and small scale energy solutions across sub-Saharan Africa.
The private sector drives beyond the grid and Power Africa has partnered with more than 40 investors and practitioners, leveraging more than $1 billion in commitments towards achieving innovation.
The first funding of BGFZ which will be implemented up to 2021 has attracted 39 bidders, both local and foreign and saw five successful bidders with a total of S$15.8 million commitments from the fund to support the project.
This will involved the establishment and market entry as well as scaling up of operations of the selected energy service providers.
It is also encouraging that, as Minister in the Vice President’s Office Sylvia Chalikosa said, the funding is pivoted on US$21 million from energy service providers in equity, co-funding and other financing commitments.
It is also interesting to note the potential mobilisation of a further US$26 million over the implementation period.
The implementation period of the first funding round for the selected
participating companies are targeting a total of 503,645 connections
which translates into more than three million beneficiaries countrywide.
It is expected, therefore, that the initiative will strengthen the country’s cause for the development of the energy sector thereby improving the wellbeing of the people, especially those in the rural area.
The importance of the sustainable supply of energy in the opening up of the rural areas cannot be over emphasised.
Any development experts will agree that electrification an area triggers economic development as investors start getting attracted to such an area.
We are, therefore, elated by this project which will help to develop the rural areas of this country and help to improve the livelihood of the rural dwellers.