Drivers and barriers to diffusion, implementation and management of renewable energy systems in rural Tanzania and Mozambique – interaction between stakeholders
Conference contribution, 2011
Renewable energy technologies are increasingly being used to electrify rural areas in developing countries. This study is based on semi-structured stakeholder interviews and field visits in Tanzania and Mozambique during eight weeks in 2010, identifying what energy sector stakeholders from national and local level perceive as drivers and barriers to rural electrification using decentralized renewable energy systems (RES). The interaction between national and local stakeholders is described and how they perceive the potential for RES; it is further analyzed whether different perspectives and understandings may create conflicts or barriers to successful implementation and management.
The two neighboring countries face similar challenges, with high levels of rural poverty and low electrification levels (around 2 % of rural people have access to electricity). Due to long distances and high costs, many areas will not be covered by national electricity grids within a foreseeable future. Therefore, in some areas decentralized systems are the only economically feasible short-term alternatives. In most cases, this means costly and unreliable diesel generators. Replacing diesel generators with small-scale renewable energy systems such as solar PV systems, micro-hydro, wind or biofuels represents an opportunity to improve rural people’s lives and diminish the dependency on fossil fuels. Currently, both Tanzania and Mozambique have national policies and newly established government agencies promoting renewable energy rural electrification, but there are interesting social and political differences impacting implementation and management. In Mozambique, the diffusion of decentralized systems (solar PV and diesel generators) is a top-down process, where local participation is taking place on a consultancy and contractual basis. Civil society is very weak and there is little industry or private business in rural areas. In comparison, Tanzania has a strong civil society and there are local initiatives and private sector actors that play a part in electrifying the countryside. Still, rural poverty poses a difficult challenge working as a barrier to successful management and economic viability in projects. In both countries the top-down structure and low institutional quality of the energy sectors create financial and political barriers for local actors and non-governmental organizations. However, although RES are of limited technical capacity and face economical difficulties, their introduction work as a driver for increased demand and social development, improving the customer base for future grid extension.