Sustainable access to modern energy services for South Africa’s urban and rural poor. How can research contribute

Science real and relevant: 2nd CSIR Biennial Conference, CSIR International Convention Centre Pretoria, 17&18 November 2008 The global development agenda has become increasingly focused on poverty reduction in response to the dire state of the

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  Sustainable access to modern energy services for South Africa’s urban and ruralpoor. How can research contribute? M C Mapako* and C MusvotoCSIR Natural Resources and Environment, P O Box 395, Pretoria, 0001Email: Reference: CPO-0065Pull quote:                                  Introduction The global development agenda has becomeincreasingly focused on poverty reduction inresponse to the dire state of the populations of most developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. At the top of the United NationsMillennium Development Goals is the alleviationof extreme poverty and hunger. In line with this,both the New Partnership for Africa’sDevelopment and the Southern AfricanDevelopment Community have poverty reductionas the overarching goal of their programmes. South Africa, though relatively well developed incomparison with other African states, has one of the world’s highest levels of inequality . Clearlyscientific research must pay attention toaddressing increasingly urgent issues aroundpoverty, and work closely with policy makers. Acorrelation has been demonstrated between per capita modern energy consumption anddevelopment indicators such as GNP per capita.There has been a general failure in initiativesmeant to deliver modern energy services to thepoor. The central issues in successful delivery of modern energy services to the poor revolvearound clear understanding of the needs andcircumstances of the poor and clear communication of the positive and negativeimplications of any intended interventions to thepoor.This paper, based on a survey of the literature,highlights the poverty-focused efforts within theCSIR energy-sector research to deploy decisionsupport and other tools to ensure moresuccessful delivery of energy services to the poor. Poverty and energy The poorest countries show high levels of traditional energy reliance. Poor sub-Saharan African countries such as Malawi, Mozambiqueand Ethiopia, for example, have traditionalbiomass contributing around 90% of their totalnational energy consumption. Modern energyservices expand the opportunities for productiveactivities by allowing the operation of faster andmore efficient machinery and facilitate provisionof improved health and educational services.The provision of energy services does not in itself cause development in the absence of other support measures, including transport,communications, markets and credit, andelectricity is not a basic need like food andshelter, for example.The high level of inequality in South Africa isdemonstrated by South Africa’s relatively high ginicoefficient (a measure of income inequality) of 57.8 compared to corresponding figures for other countries, for example Norway 25.8, Sweden25.0, Australia 35.2, Cambodia 40.4, Uganda 43,Kenya 42.5 and Tanzania 38.2. Urban poverty isalso a growing problem given that migration tourban areas is increasing the population in thoseareas at about twice the rate of population growthin sub-Saharan Africa. General failure of energy service deliveryinitiatives aimed at the poor  The reasons for the failure of many energyinitiatives may be traced to flawed approaches todissemination , typically the top-down approach tothe planning and implementation of projects,resulting in failure to address the needs of theintended beneficiaries. A selection of energyservice delivery cases from the region ispresented below to illustrate successes andfailures and the factors responsible. Zimbabwe’s renewable energy projects Immediately after independence in 1980,Zimbabwe embarked on an ambitious ruraldevelopment programme to bring development tothe previously neglected rural majority.Experience over two decades showed that anumber of project implementation componentstend to contribute to the success or failure of theinitiatives. These include training, institutionalframework, financing, maintenance and targetingreal needs.  The biogas and woodstove projects werepredominantly of the welfare type, largelyimplemented by government in the 1980s withhigh subsidies in a predominantly top-downapproach. Another category of projects, whichinclude PVP and the GEF solar project werepartially welfare in that end users had to pay aportion of both installation and maintenancecosts. The last category of initiatives, includingindustrial gasifiers, gensets and windmills werepredominantly private sector driven and almost allpowered income-generating activities. Wherefinancing was necessary, it tended to be throughnormal commercial channels and maintenancewas through the equipment supplier or an agent.The success of the initiatives was greater for themore commercial programmes where theapproach was necessarily bottom up. Biogas in Botswana During the 1980s Botswana embarked on abiogas water pumping programme that wasspearheaded by the Rural Industries InnovationCentre (RIIC) in Kanye. These were villagebiogas plants up to 110 m 3  in size, installed freeat selected villages. Other villages not in theprogramme used government-supplied dieselpumpsets (diesel engine coupled to a water pumpand sold as one unit). The programme failed after a few years as the digesters fell into disuse. Thereasons for failure included failure to providemechanisms for collection of funds for operationand maintenance, difficulty and reluctance tocollect dung, perceived unfairness in paying for water with dung, and lack of a sense of ownershipof the biogas digesters. An instructive example of successfulimplementation of a village biogas scheme is thatof Pura village near Bangalore in Karnataka state,South India. Here many of the problemsencountered in Botswana were addressedthrough careful integration of the biogas projectinto the village. This included communityorganisation, employment of operators, supply of electricity and water, powering productiveenterprises, and a scheme to return digestedslurry to the villagers for use as manure. Experiences from the water sector  In a study of selected delivery lessons fromsouthern Africa 2  the CSIR’s sustainable energyfutures research group looked at a number of regional energy programmes as well as other sectors from which lessons could be drawn. Notsurprisingly, experiences from the water sector inefforts to deliver services to communitiesparalleled those in the energy sector. Findingsconfirm the value of coupling with other serviceslike sanitation to provide more holistic solutions,and appropriate technology choice. This requiresthat the implementing agency be able to firstascertain the needs of the villagers. Summary of issues The foregoing discussion has looked at someinitiatives in the southern Africa region, and anumber of points may be highlighted:  Given the need to deliver packagedinterventions tailored to the needs of therecipient communities, an interdisciplinaryapproach to the design and implementationhas much to recommend it.  Understanding the context into which anygiven technology is to be introduced, is acritical initial step.   Approaches to the delivery of renewableenergy and energy efficiency havecomponents such as informationdissemination, financing arrangements,training and maintenance. Some of thesecomponents are more critical than others tothe success of the delivery models.  How critical a given component is, maychange depending on the point at which thedissemination process is. For example,financing is generally critical in the earlystages when beneficiaries need to acquiredevices whereas maintenance becomesmore important later once the devices havebeen disseminated.  Local knowledge is important for the long-term success of initiatives. Climate may affectthe usability of improved stoves, as can localpreferences and customs.  Supportive and consistent policies areimportant to the long-term success of dissemination initiatives. Towards more successful implementation for poverty reduction Clearly, research needs to respond to theidentified shortcomings in the way energy servicedelivery initiatives have been implemented withlimited success. The CSIR is planningcollaborating with Imperial College London on adecision support tools for use in planningcommunity energy service initiatives. The tool willbe adapted for South Africa with inclusion of bioenergy options. The eventual outcome shouldbe much more successful energy service deliveryfor poverty reduction. 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