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SEI - Stockholm Environment Institute

Rural people pay for solar! Seven lessons learned from Zambia

A pilot project in Zambia shows that solar services can be provided by local rural companies at rates that are affordable by rural people. Seven main lessons learned: 

  1. People are willing to pay more for solar energy than what they used to pay for kerosene and dry cells previously.

  2. Proximity to clients is a key element for success in providing energy services. Service techni-cians should be able to reach the clients on foot or bicycle. It is also important in order to ob-tain payment and keep defaulting at a minimum.

  3. Theft is not a big problem under these circumstances.

  4. Large international companies are no guarantee for quality performance.

  5. Inflation erodes incomes, and service fees need to be adjusted at least annually.

  6. Procurement through international competitive tender reduces possibilities for local market development, and excludes small local companies.

  7. Providing credit through formal financial institutions in rural areas in a country like Zambia is virtually impossible, due to disinterest, lack of local presence and abominable interest rates by the banks.

 


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Comments


Comment by Jacinta Murunga on September 22, 2014

It is indeed important to build local capacity through trainings and also allow for local companies to implement rural projects. In addition to charging affordable prices, Projects implemented by local companies have a higher acceptance rate by rural folks, and do not undergo erroneous consultation processes, as compared to projects implemented by international companies. There is also the issue of trust build among locals, deep understanding and connection to local cultures and the easiness to resolve conflicts, something that an international company working in a local setting will find it difficult to achieve.