Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy: International
Parliamentary Hearing for Southern African Legislators [Climate Change and
Energy Access for the Poor];
A delegation of the Portfolio Committee
on Energy was invited to, and attended the International Parliamentary Hearing
for Southern African Legislators on Climate Change and Energy Access for the
Poor; held in
2. Delegation and other participants
The Portfolio Committee on Energy delegation:
* Ms E Thabethe [Chairperson]
* Mr G Selau [ANC]
* Mr P Mbele [Committee Secretary]
Sixteen other legislators from the
Southern African Region gathered for the hearing together with experts on
climate change, gender, rural electrification and renewable energy.
Participating countries included
3. Background and objectives
The objectives of the hearing encompassed the following;
was the fifth International parliamentary hearing in a series of nine organized
by the e-Parliament for African,
4. Action Ideas Discussed
4.1 Field Trip to Djabula
The hearing began on Friday, 18th September with a field
trip to Djabula, a village in the
The installation of solar systems in Djabula in 2004 was one
of the first projects implemented by FUNAE, the government institution
responsible for rural electrification in
The MPs had the opportunity to see how solar panels provide clean and reliable electricity to the school, health centre, teacher’s residence and 45 other households. They also had the chance to see how a water pumping system powered by photovoltaics provides water to the whole village. This installation particularly benefits the women and girls who in the past had to walk 15 kilometres to fetch water. The project coordinator explained that the systems work even when there is no sun, as energy stored in the batteries provide electricity for up to three days. The Djabula community leader said that the population understands the benefits of the solar systems and that the beneficiaries are even willing to pay a fee for the services provided.
4.2 Climate Change and its Impact in
Professor Coleen Vogel of the University of the
4.3 Gender and Energy
Kulthoum Omari, who represented ENERGIA, addressed the legislators on the crucial issue of mainstreaming gender concerns into energy policies. Although African women are usually still responsible for collecting firewood and thereby securing energy for the household, their needs are not addressed in most rural electrification projects. Ms. Omari explained that “Gender Audits” can be one useful tool in identifying existing gaps in energy policies and programmes and focusing attention on ways to overcome them.
Ms Omari also presented other recommendations to the MPs to stimulate gender-sensitive energy policies, such as promoting budget allocation (within the Ministry of Energy) for specific gender and energy activities, encourage the establishment of a Ministry of Gender with sufficient resources and decision-making power to coordinate gender mainstreaming in other Ministries and to promote the participation of women in the actual formulation of energy policies.
4.4 Energy Access Through Mini-Grid Systems Based On Renewable Energies
Mr Stephen Muthimba (Director, Camco
Mr. Mutimba finished by pointing out the following steps parliamentarians can take to implement these systems:
1. Assess the needs of a community and the resource availability. This can depend on factors such as availability of renewable energy sources, energy needs of the local populations (cooking, water pumping, lighting), access to existing electricity distribution networks and the consumers’ ability to pay for the energy service.
2. Identify initiatives & local ‘champions’ (CBOs, NGOs, business) behind these initiatives, promote focused discussions to identify the problems they face in managing their projects with the objective of reaching a ‘critical mass’ on the ground to support policy change.
3. Convene ‘Policy Dialogues’ with the help of ‘champions’. This may range from discussion with government officers on enforcement of existing law to moving a motion in parliament. Mr. Mutimba emphasised that MPs need to make sure they have the support of beneficiary communities, local leaders, NGOs and businesses. It’s vital that they research different options and discuss with colleagues so they have a thorough understanding of the chosen policies they want to pursue.
4.5 The Mozambican Experience
Supplementing the observations
from the Djabula field trip, Dr. Miquelina Menezes, president of FUNAE, shared
4.6 An innovative Financial Scheme to Finance Mini-Grids in Developing Countries
Mauricio Peralta, Energy Specialist at the
Organization of American States (OAS), opened the session on Sunday and
presented a new financial scheme to promote renewable energy mini-grids in
un-electrified rural areas. Mr Peralta, pointed out that there are a number of
barriers that need to be overcome before mini-grids can be deployed in
Tariffs (FITs) have been successful in promoting the use of renewables in many
parts of the world – notably in
Mauricio Peralta finished by highlighting some key aspects for successful RPT legislation; namely, that it is important to determine which renewable energy technologies and what size of generating plants will be covered by the law; to determine appropriate RPT tariff rate; guarantee the tariff rate over a specific period of time; determine an effective way of financing the RPT (through a governmental electrification fund or international donors); impose a priority purchase obligation (grid operators are obliged to connect RE producers to the grid and must transmit the electricity they produce).
The legislators then agreed through dialogue that:
is a need for widespread awareness of gender differences when designing energy
policies. Men and women have different energy needs and these differences have
to be accounted for when providing a rural community with electricity. Gender
audits, like the one developed in
2. When planning rural electrification, the characteristics and the needs of communities
need to be surveyed to assess whether a certain community can have grid electricity in the near future. If extending the grid is not economically feasible it needs to be determined which off-grid options - stand alone systems or mini-grids - are the most suitable.
legislators unanimously agreed on the importance of building capacity within
Feasibility studies on the potential for solar thermal power should be
conducted, especially in the countries with the highest solar irradiation
levels such as
5. A number of options were discussed regarding the financing of renewable energies in the region. As has been demonstrated in some African countries, Feed-in tariffs can help encourage the uptake of on-grid renewable energies. Given that the European-style FIT scheme may not always be suitable for off-grid rural electrification, the “Renewable Energy Premium Tariff” - that combines the key aspects of a FIT with government or international funding – was discussed as a promising way to promote mini-grids in remote areas.
6. Introducing a charge on grid-connected users, encouraging financial institutions to offer soft-loans for RE projects and offering tax breaks and lower import tariffs for RE technologies and necessary materials were other financing options discussed by MPs and experts.