US, Sweden pump $8m in energy sector development

UNITED States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA) have partnered with a local financial institution to launch a US$8 million to support the development of the renewable energy and agriculture sector in Zambia.

U.S Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz said the United States and Sweden, through the Power Africa partnership, were committed to supporting Zambia to increase access to clean, renewable and efficient energy and to realize its goal of access to electricity for all Zambians.

Mr Schultz said the initiative was part of the on-going partnership between the United States and Sweden to deepen collaboration with key partners in the energy sector.

“U.S and Swedish engagement and financial commitments will help attract additional private sector investment that is essential to increasing energy access in Africa,” he said.

And Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Henrik Cederin said connecting everyone in Africa to national electricity grids was a laudable goal, but that it was not feasible or affordable.

Mr Cederin said off-grid energy solution, such a solar and biogas units, would play a major role in the future energy mix in Africa, providing millions of people outside urban hubs with access to basic energy services and opportunities to build and grow businesses while enabling communities to extend the reach of education and health care.

U.S embassy public affairs officer Janet Deutsch said the financing would better position farmers and landowners to invest in renewable energy technologies such as bio digesters that could power milk chillers or solar-powered devices that improve irrigation, increasing the amount of harvest and yields.

She said odd-grid and small-scale energy projects were bringing benefits to rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

Power Africa, initially launched by United States President Barack Obama in 2013, was a multi-donor initiative that leveraged resources of many governments, donor agencies, and private sector stakeholders and its goal was to double the number of people with access to electricity in Africa.