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Rural communities need electricity to meet energy SDG – expert

KALONDE NYATI, Lusaka
ATTAINMENT of the sustainable development goals (SDG) on access to reliable energy for all, could only be achieved if, rural communities are provided with electricity, an energy expert says.
The SDG 7 targets to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Johnstone Chikwanda, who is Energy Forum Zambia chairperson, said while Government is making strides to end load shedding through new power generation and transmission projects, and rural electrification, more initiatives that  target rural communities are necessary in attaining SDG7.
“As a forum, we know that Government will end load shedding, but it is one thing to have surplus electricity in the grid and quite another thing to have universal access at national level. This is because some households may not be able to pay for connections and bills.
Therefore, proposing innovations such as a bag of maize in exchange for a small to medium solar installation in rural can help a lot,” he said in an interview recently.
Mr Chikwanda said that with Zambia’s electrification rate only standing at about 25 percent, concerted effort will be required to accelerate universal access to clean, affordable energy for all.
He is optimistic that Government can achieve SDG7 through increased investment in the energy sector, tariff re-alignment and developing innovative solutions in partnership with the civil society.
“The universal access to electricity will remain a pipe dream unless innovative solutions are in place to end load shedding and ensure surplus electricity.
Government needs to expand its engagement platform with CSOs that are working in the energy sector in order for them to appreciate some of the pertinent challenges Government is facing in moving the sector towards achieving sustainable development goal number seven,” he said.

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