DegreePolitical Science ’21
So what was the goal of the team?
Well, the energy landscape in Zambia has been relatively untapped in comparison to neighboring countries, like Kenya where they have a thriving off grid energy private sector.
We were meeting with all of these private sector companies, government agencies, NGOs, and we really wanted to create a sort of document or resource for private companies looking to enter the space and also financiers and backers looking to enter the space [in order to] connect all of the dots and create that sort of market overview and market landscape that highlighted both the opportunities in the space, the immense untapped market, and then also the many challenges that come with this space, such as the unpredictability.
Being that it’s such a new space for private companies to expand into, there’s a lot of reactionary policy.
What surprised you most of what you found or what experience you had?
What surprised me the most was with all of the funding coming in and a new emphasis on sustainability and energy access as well, that same emphasis on sustainability hasn’t necessarily been extended to the actual business side of the energy access equation.
When you’re looking at local companies that often start off as individually run operations, where they’re just perhaps reselling solar home products or solar home systems on the streets, those don’t have the same access to early seed capital or early financing as foreign or expat owned companies.
So, just really trying to get that sector of the energy access equation off the ground and realizing that a lot of the money hadn’t previously gone to those same people. That was probably was most surprising to me considering all of the wonderful Zambian entrepreneurs we had the immense pleasure of meeting.
Excerpted from Ep. 91 Powering Rural Africa on the Sanford School of Public Policy website; listen to the Policy 360 podcast below.
Photo: The Bass Connections team visited a solar microgrid site in the village of Mugurameno, Zambia, in August 2018 to learn about challenges and opportunities facing electrification in rural communities. Miranda Wolford is at far right.