What's holding back off-grid renewable energy in Zimbabwe?


Zimbabwe has enormous potential to adopt renewable energy technologies, its government and experts say. Solar is particularly promising, and could supply 10,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year – more than the country’s current total power production – if the funding were available to fully exploit it.

But according to a discussion that took place in Harare last month, the renewable energy market is littered with structural pitfalls. These may hamper the development of off-grid power, increasingly styled as the quickest and cheapest way to get clean energy to millions of poor people without electricity.

Tonderayi Mukeredzi of Thomson Reuters Foundation had discussions about the solar market in Zimbabwe with a number of leader experts, including SNV's Energy Advisor Fungai Matura. The potential problems identified at the energy discussion involving government officials, businesses and sustainable energy groups were related to:

  • Policy gaps (not enough condusive policies are in place to support the development of the solar market)

  • Finance (firms require access to finance to scale their operations)

  • Quality standards (the solar market is unregulated and many substandard products and services are found in the market).

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