Harnessing Solar Energy in Zimbabwe Needs to Be Inclusive

April 4, 2017

Hivos Southern Africa welcomes a recent announcement made by Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Minister of State, Faber Chidarikire, that 300000 rural households are set to be solar powered under a $4 million facility aimed at eliminating use of non-renewable energy sources.

The project, which is modelled around a prepaid system, will initially target 24000 households, and involves a collbaoration between a private secro company, government and the local community.

The proposed project will give communities that have borne the burden of energy poverty for far too long a way to be active participants in the renewable energy solution. Zimbabwe is blessed with an abundance of sunshine that can be harnessed to improve people’s lives and livelihoods.

And people in rural areas of Zimbabwe – approximately 70 per cent of the population – have the most to gain from a transition to clean, affordable renewable energy. Bringing solar power to rural off-grid communities is vital to kickstarting socio-economic development.

Without a doubt, a decentralised, large-scale solar adoption will create a more resilient, climate-friendly and people-centred energy system 

Harnessing sunshine can potentially expedite creation of local jobs and reduce the need for traditional polluting power. Without electricity families have no clean source of light, leaving them to rely on expensive and dangerous alternatives. Other benefits include:

  • Bringing power to rural communities improves health and lowers costs by replacing dangerous and expensive fuel sources in homes
  • Improves learning in schools through access to technology and evening learning opportunities
  • Improves quality of life and supports business opportunities by charging cell phones, computers, appliances, and other electronics
  • Improves access to medical care by providing lighting, refrigeration for medicine and power for medical devices
  • Increases volume and diversity of crops through drip irrigation powered by the sun, saving farmers time, making locally grown food available in the community year round, and increasing the income of farming families

Without a doubt, large-scale solar adoption will create a more resilient, climate-friendly and people-centered energy system. However, sustainable models for renewable energy development are key to the uptake of renewable energy technologies. As Hivos Southern Africa, we believe in an inclusive approach to renewable energy adoption.

Hivos Southern Africa’s vision through its Green and Inclusive (GIE) partnership in Zimbabwe is a successful transition to renewable energy that includes everyone, especially underserved rural communities. The Green and Inclusive Energy programme, a five-year programme, aims to influence energy policies and practices by executing effective lobby and advocacy strategies. Partners in the Green and Inclusive Energy programme in Zimbabwe include Action 24, Development Reality Institute, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe Environmental Regional Organization, and Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network.

Meaningful community involvement, local partnerships, smart solar design, and continued training, maintenance and renewable policy alignment is essential to meeting rural communities’ rural energy needs.