GIZ’s energy programme in Afghanistan entitled Renewable Energy Supply for Rural Areas (ESRA) promotes utilisation of renewable energy sources for rural electrification and development, mainly in the form of mini hydro power systems.
The programme comprises three components:
- Energy for rural development
- Energy planning at provincial level
- Policy advising at the national level
ESRA aims to systematically stimulate economic development potentials by utilising renewable energy technologies and promoting sustainable management systems and productive uses of electricity.
Badakhshan Region of Afghanistan
In the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan, the ESRA programme aimed to institutionalise the concept of productive use of renewable energy (PURE) in the planning and implementation process for rural as well as urban electrification by transferring good practice knowledge to provincial and national decisions-makers. For this multiple-stakeholder process, it was crucial to first gain an understanding of the various parties’ roles, responsibilities and interests in promoting PURE. The relevant line ministries were assembled under the umbrella of the Afghan National Development Strategy, which states that 25% of rural inhabitants should have access to electricity for productive uses.
The key stakeholders in this process are:
- the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), which houses the Renewable Energy Department (RED) involved in rural electrification;
- the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), which implements the broad and effective National Solidarity Programme (NSP) financed by the World Bank, and is involved in micro energy supply systems such as pico and micro hydro power as well as solar home systems; MRRD is mainly focusing on basic electrification;
- UNDP, which is helping to develop the Energy for Rural Development in Afghanistan (ERDA) project aimed at upgrading power-generating facilities for PURE;
- Afghanistan’s national power utility DABS - a state-owned enterprise with exclusive control of major power generation and supply systems.
Despite the clear scopes of responsibility, none of the stakeholders noted have carried out a programme dedicated to promoting and facilitating PURE. The corporate culture of these stakeholders is focused on the technical aspects of power supply solutions, and little know-how is available for strategies targeting business development. The challenge was to include PURE promotion in the respective missions and mandates of these stakeholders. It is still unclear as to which institution could become a key driver for institutional PURE promotion in the future, as the topic falls under the remits of various authorities and ministries. The known key drivers of PURE are local politicians, enterprises, business development services, electricity providers and associations, as these organisations benefit directly. What is needed, then, is to establish an enabling environment that allows PURE to emerge on a local level. This involves the statutory, regulatory and administrative frameworks as well as sector development i.e. for electrical control systems of power stations and standardisation of products and quality control. These efforts will also require energy planning to forecast the demand created by productive uses of electricity.
To these ends, ESRA advised MEW to include a section on PURE in the electrification strategy, consisting of three tasks:
- assessment of productive use opportunities as part of energy planning (existing productive demand, resources, impact on productivity, etc.);
- main activities for promoting productive use (awareness raising, organising small business courses, offering technical advice during testing periods);
- integrated productive use management at the provincial level (productive use promotion unit in charge of implementing and coordinating the main promotion activities and networking of ministerial departments involved, NGOs, MFIs, projects and donors, business associations, and suppliers of electric generating machinery and other technologies needed); in addition to bringing about enabling framework conditions, efforts to foster productive use of electric power should be carried out locally, and funds made available for those who directly benefit from promoting productive use.
Experience from GIZ’s ESRA programme in Afghanistan