Rural electrification in Mozambique: how to find the right villages?
Mozambique has abundant resources for generating clean, accessible, and sustainable energy. In 2011, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative to ensure universal access by 2030 to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global mix. Although a wide range of socio-economic and environmental arguments are in favor of renewable energy systems, political and legal, technical and financial barriers generally persist.
The electricity access in Mozambique in 2018 was estimated at 31.1%. In rural areas, however, this rate drops to 8.0% (World Bank). Meanwhile, in November 2018, the Government of Mozambique launched the National Energy for All Programme to advance the country towards achieving energy access by 2030. The programme prioritises grid expansion and densification but also considers the role of off-grid, renewable energy-based solutions, especially in remote areas.
FUNAE, the National Energy Fund, is particularly concerned about this issue. Indeed, together with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MIREME) and the Mozambican Electricity Company (EDM), these institutions need coordination to avoid duplication of effort in the field of electrification. While EDM works on the expansion and densification of the national grid, FUNAE is mandated to electrify the remote(r) areas with off-grid technologies. This, of course means knowing each other's presence in the national territory to avoid working in the same areas.
FUNAE has so far been able to identify the most promising off-grid electrification sites due to its widespread presence at the provincial level. The standard approach involves intensive fieldwork, with constant deployment from delegation offices and from headquarters in the capital. However, the risk remains that this approach does not take into account places that are more isolated and less well known by FUNAE and its partners.
Through its RERD2 project, Enabel (the Belgian Development Agency), as a partner of FUNAE, proposed, among other solutions, the use of innovative geospatial technologies (GIS) to solve the problem of data availability. After analysing the best practices in other countries, a method was developed internally. The method addresses data scarcity by combining largely openly available data with the existing data in the institution. The idea behind the proposed method is simple: Firstly, we identify the location of population and the existing and planned national electrical grid.
This will allow us to filter the villages with large and dense populations so far from the grid that they are unlikely to be connected to the national grid in the foreseeable future. For FUNAE, these two criteria (location of settlements and the national grid) are strategic. After mapping these as accurately as possible, it is still possible to complete the analysis by cross-referencing with other information, such as the location of schools and health centers, distance to major cities, population growth, household income, economic potential and potential productive uses of electricity.
During the application of the methodology carried out recently in two provinces, 14 sites were selected from an initial list of 53 sites by the provincial delegations of the FUNAE, having found 13 new locations that were not included in the plans for rural electrification of FUNAE. The data collection is now in progress through telephone interviews in all priority locations. The potential of the most interesting villages will be verified through field surveys.
Ultimately, the above methodology led not only to an approach systematic correction of rural electrification, but also to a reduction in the number of on-site missions. In effect, these missions are resource-intensive and can have a significant impact on the availability of technicians for other tasks. In addition, the work through this method with the different parties involved as well address the issue of collaboration between different institutions. Although there are still work to be done in this area, working on this method was an important step in awareness of the importance of greater collaboration in the energy sector.
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In March, Enabel launched a tender for the Design, procurement and construction of 5 hybrid mini-grids in Zambézia and Nampula provinces in Mozambique whose deadline for receipt of proposals ends on May 4th. See more information here.
Source and Image © ENABEL