The European Union (EU) signed a EUR65m grant with Zambia to improve access to energy in the country.
The financing agreement was signed by Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, and Felix Mutati, Zambia’s Minister of Finance, in Brussels on January 19th, 2017.
This program is expected to provide access to reliable, clean and affordable electricity services to at least 63,000 households, or about 300,000 people, to social and public infrastructure and to eligible Micro Small Enterprises (MSEs).
This will be achieved through the rehabilitation and expansion of the low voltage distribution network in selected low income areas of Lusaka with high population density.
In addition to the rehabilitation and expansion of the low voltage distribution network, the program includes a connection-fee subsidy scheme to encourage new household connections as well as measures to promote productive uses of electricity by women and MSEs.
These will include facilitated access to micro credit lines and training in business management and entrepreneurship.
During the meeting in Brussels, Mimica said: “This EUR65m program demonstrates the continued commitment of the European Union in collaboration with European Financial Institutions (EFIs) to provide the much needed capital investment for basic infrastructure development, in order to improve the livelihood and social status of poor communities in Zambia. The rehabilitation of the low voltage distribution network and the new connections will allow for the provision of reliable and affordable energy services and economic empowerment. The program will support the implementation of the European External Investment Plan which prioritizes socio-economic development through infrastructure and energy in particular.”
The European Commission (EC) notes that Lusaka faces challenges, because its electricity network infrastructure results in significant energy losses.
This is coupled with an increasing population in high density low-income areas, which is unable to access electricity services due to high connection costs.
The EC further indicates that lack of access to electricity services seriously deprives the affected population, in terms of quality of life and exposure to various hazards that go with it (in-door pollution, unsafe cooking, poor social services, low self-esteem etc..), worsening the social inequality gap between the low density and high density urban areas.