A background on social context and renewable energy sources in Mozambique and Tanzania - An initial report from the STEEP-RES project
This initial research report, appearing before the formal commencement of the STEEP-RES
project, focuses on the background and context of the project which is intended to make a
socio-technical-ecological assessment of prerequisites to and effects of introducing renewable
energy sources (RES) into rural communities of the coastal Tanzania and Mozambique. Therefore
a short review of the scientific literature is made dealing with societal prerequisites and
repercussions of electrification. Technical aspects related to the availability of natural resources
and technologies for renewable energy resources utilisation are also briefly covered
along with some very brief remarks on possible environmental repercussions.
The review of the social context covers > 45 papers dealing with different experiences
of electrification in developing countries relating to renewable energy applicable for poverty
alleviation in rural settings. The primary energy sources in rural East Africa are biofuels and
electricity plays a limited role. Electrification influences the composition of the energy mix,
but during early development it has very limited impact on the use of wood for cocking and
heating purposes. The institutional and financial frameworks are currently major barriers to
small-scale RES-projects, although local technical and financial capacities are slowly increasing.
Social and cultural settings create important drivers and barriers to introduction and diffusion
of new technologies. Further, poverty and gender inequality are considered key issues for
electrification projects and create important barriers to success. Participatory and needoriented
approaches are considered necessary by most researchers for successful RES-projects.
The more technical review is based on ~50 papers covers the existing renewable energy
sources (RES) - biofuels, solar, hydro, geothermal, wind, wave and tide. The technological
state and resource abundance of each source is discussed briefly in a regional context,
along with environmental considerations on each technology.
As large scale hydropower is being used in the region since long, it is noticeable that
small- and micro-scale hydropower is now advancing and will contribute to electrification in
many smaller river-bound areas. Bioenergy, in terms of firewood is widely used for cooking
purposes, although not environmentally sustainable and not with potential for electricity generation.
Biofuels from plantations is rapidly increasing in Africa as well as the global trend.
Also here, environmental considerations are of great importance for sustainability. Other RES
of potential in the region, and with perhaps less environmental constrains, may be solar photovoltaic
and tidal energy. Of less importance, according to regionally sparse resource abunii
dance, seem to be wind and wave energy. The potential of geothermal energy is geographically
restricted to a few good locations.
An inventory of actors within the field of East-African RES based on internet resources
reveals a “top-heavy” information situation with many and well-designed information sources
and active networks on global and African regional level while less web-information is available
from local levels in Tanzania and Mozambique, where only few companies working in
the field has been identified. More direct investigations are needed starting from the actors
identified in this initial inventory.