PRODUCTIVE USES OF ELECTRICITY
The rural electrification projects in rural Zambia are aimed at promoting productive uses of electricity both at household and community level. The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) promotes the utilization of the available rural electrification technological options to enhance the contribution of energy to the development of various economic sectors in rural areas. Its main role is to provide electricity infrastructure to all rural areas for increased access to electricity in order to contribute to improved productivity and quality of life for all Zambians.
REA’s view is that, although electricity certainly provides improvements in the quality of life through household applications, it is the “productive uses” of electricity that can increase incomes and benefits to rural areas. Productive use of electricity is any use of electricity that helps generate income for the end user and also improves service delivery in the social sectors in rural areas. The major productive uses of electricity in rural areas are for sectors such as agriculture, small industry, commercial services and social services like drinking water, education and health care.
This publication highlights some of the productive uses of electricity in rural areas. It presents various examples of productive uses of electricity that can change people’s lives. It is intended that readers will get insights on how best to advocate for, initiate and support electrification projects that encourage productive uses of electricity in rural Zambia.
The benefits that accrue from productive uses of electricity include increased cash incomes, community development, enhanced lighting for education, improved health services, lower indoor air pollution, and reduced labour burdens on the women. Increased income and fulfillment of social needs in turn allows greater use of electricity and more wide spread investments in rural electrification technologies, with further environmental and socio–economic development benefits.
- Food production and storage ; examples include water pumping for crop irrigation, water pumping for cattle, electric livestock fences, Aeration pumps for fish farms, egg incubators, refrigeration for storage (fruit, milk, meat etc).
Food Processing; Meat, Fish and Vegetable drying and freezing, cereal grain processing, grain mills, Lighting for processing plants.
Materials processing; Sawmills, textile dyeing.
Community Services; Broadcast media, village cinema, Cellular /satellite telephone /fax, computer/internet e-commerce, lighting of markets, community center lighting, security lighting.
Education; School lighting to extend learning hours, application of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to enhance teaching (use of Videos and computers/internet).
Health Care; Medical equipment, vaccine/medicine refrigeration, computer/internet for telemedicine, clinic lighting.
Drinking water; Desalination, potable water pumping, piped water distribution.
Cottage industry; Bakeries (ovens), Brick making (Kilns), Carpentry (power tools), electronics repair (soldering irons), Handcraft production (small electric tools), sewing (sewing machines), Welding (welders), wood-working (drills, lathes), workshop (small electric tools), lighting for work places and grocery shops.
FACTORS IMPORTANT FOR ACHIEVING PRODUCTIVE USES OF ELECTRICITY IN RURAL AREAS
There are a number of factors that are important in achieving productive use of electricity in rural areas. The factors require that all stakeholders in rural electrification projects pool their efforts in uplifting the standards of living for the rural poor. Some of the key factors that would help in achieving productive use of electricity include;
2. Available and reliable electric tools and equipment
3. Available and affordable financing
4. Available and qualified human resources
5. Sufficient demand for the product or service
Considering the above mentioned factors, REA cannot provide all the prerequisites for successful productive uses of electricity in rural areas but provides affordable infrastructure for the rural growth centres. REA will work with stakeholders such as line ministries, nongovernmental organisations, the private sector and the community to advocate for, initiate and support electrification projects that encourage productive uses of electricity in rural Zambia