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Zambia relies on data to achieve rural electrification

Zambia - cleanbuild
Credit: reep.org

The Rural Electrification Authority of Zambia and the have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to monitor and support Zambia’s electrification efforts using advanced data collection and analysis.

The MoU outlines a joint effort to leverage the Edison data platform that was originally developed to collect and analyze data for the Power Africa Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia. The joint effort is proof of the two organizations’ shared commitment to promoting and engendering access to modern, clean energy for rural and underserved Zambians.

Towards achieving a 51% electrification rate by 2030

The Rural Electrification Authority of Zambia (REA) is an official body with the mandate to provide electricity infrastructure to all rural areas using appropriate technologies. In line with this commission, the REA aims to increase the electrification rate to 51% by 2030.

The success of the project will enhance living standards and productivity, at the same, improve the quality of life for all Zambians.

Over the next few years, the REA will focus on a number of initiatives which include capital subsidy support, solar, mini-grid, and hydro projects.

The goal is to allow new and existing energy service providers to reach thousands of new customers in rural and peri-urban areas across the country.

As it stands, the REEEP team has begun working with the REA to utilize the Edison data platform to monitor these initiatives, building on the success of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia (BGFZ), which has already helped energy service providers in the country provide energy services to over a million Zambians.

Created by the REEEP, the Edison data platform provides the BGFZ with real-time, accurate, and precise data and information on energy services, giving the program as well as ordinary Zambians an unmatched and transparent view of the Fund’s impact and results.

Commenting on the collaborative efforts between the two parties, Clement Silavwe, CEO, of the REA, said, “We are excited to begin this partnership with REEEP and their Edison team, and to help give REA the big data and analytics tools it needs to ensure Zambia’s rural people are getting the affordable smart power they have been promised for decades with operation and maintenance capabilities that make it sustainable.”

Leveraging data to power rural villages

The partnership with REEEP will begin by launching a pilot data collection effort for a new REA program to convert existing solar-powered hummer-mills in rural areas into mini-grids, bringing power to local villages.

The REA-REEEP pilot is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) as part of its ongoing support of the Edison initiative.

Magdalena Kouneva, Director General of REEEP, said, “In the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency, REEEP initiates and invests in projects for market development, captures and reacts to project experiences, and generates evidence-based intelligence toward further growing and replicating promising models.”

She stressed that data is a key element of the ongoing effort, and the potential benefits of improved data collection and monitoring for Zambia are enormous, with the energy sector rapidly advancing.

“Through Edison, we will work towards ensuring that the huge volume of data generated in these efforts is handled responsibly and for the good of the Zambian people”, she added.

REEEP will also support the REA in understanding and mapping out its long-term needs in data collection and monitoring.

This will be carried out with a view to developing a broader plan for REA to leverage Edison to monitor its portfolio of electrification projects, including a planned handover of Edison operations and system infrastructure to the REA.