Energy Diverse Integrations Ltd + Kafita Cooperative Society Ltd
Mpanta Solar Mini Grid Plant
Luapula, Samfya (Zambia)
Energy Diverse Integrations is trying to bridge the gap in the energy sector through the deployment of renewable energy solutions for rural based communities often known as the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) clients. The company deals in a wide range of solar products and services such as solar home systems, recharge stations, solar lights, customised systems and micro-grid based technologies focusing on the water, buildings, ICT and agricultural sector. Kafita Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society is a non-profit organisation located in the northern region of Luapula province in Zambia at a place called Mpanta of Samfya District.
The problem Energy Diverse Integrations helps to solve is energy poverty in rural and peri-urban communities through deployment of renewable energy solutions for residential and productive use of energy. In Zambia, rural electrification rate is very low at 4,5% and access to energy still remains a challenge despite grid extension programs currently being implemented as communities still live far apart making it costly for them to be connected and therefore relying on traditional energy sources like candles, kerosene lamps and generators. Kafita is currently spearheading the first ever 60 kW solar power plant in Zambia called the Mpanta Solar Mini Grid Project of which over 450 people are benefiting.
The solution makes it possible to have 24/7 year-round electricity access. The project is a 60 kW PV system supplying a 936 kWh battery bank providing electricity through 4 X 15 kilovolt-ampere (kVA) inverters to 480 connections comprising a school, market, clinic, small shops, harbour deports, churches, residential and grass-thatched households. The plant has also integrated a domestic ice plant to accommodate the ice needs of the fish traders. Circuit breakers are installed in every household to avoid overloads ensuring the life span of the plant is optimised. The partnership with the Zambia Ministry of Agriculture enabled the cooperative to benefit from a solar-powered milling plant which was installed next to the solar plant to address the food processing needs of the community. Furthermore, the Zambian Rural Electrification Authority trained staff on operations and maintenance of the project.
The total project investment cost was USD 12,500 financed through a loan facility from UNIDO, GEF and the Zambian Government. The project is currently being run by the Kafita Cooperative under a partnership with the Rural Electrification Authority. The Cooperative received the milling plant and fundraised to develop small projects in fresh fish trading, fish farming, vegetable growing and chicken rearing. The tariff structure is based on a monthly fixed rate according to the estimated demand and ability to pay principle of different categories of consumers. Since this was a pilot project, the number of users currently connected under the current tariffs can only cover the cost of operations, however the cooperative is seeking more financing to allow an upgrade of the system to a hybrid for it to reduce battery replacement cost which is a major limiting factor for the economic viability of the plant. The project is expected to pay-off in 20 years.
A total of 2,280 people benefited from the project through energy access, lower cost of electricity, reduced indoor pollution and improved productivity of small businesses. Our project was able to collect data for the consumption trends of local communities and research achievable business models, for which it earned two international awards. In the future, we aim to connect more clients and build an industrial ice factory to boost fish preservation. The current licence enables us to extend the project to more villages, and we learnt from this project how to best prepare communities for the deployment of renewable energy, fostering local acceptance and sustainability.