Publication - Challenges for Off-grid Electrification in Rural Areas. Assessment of the Situation in Namibia Using the Examples of Gam and Tsumkwe
Challenges for Off-grid Electrification in Rural Areas. Assessment of the Situation in Namibia Using the Examples of Gam and Tsumkwe
Inken Hoeck, Elmar Steurer, Özge Dolunay & Helvi Ileka
Access to electricity is vital for the social and economic development of a country. Nevertheless, electrification is still a major challenge, especially for countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Growth in access to electricity in total numbers has slowed down in recent years. Namibia in particular appears to be in a predicament, since a large portion of its widespread population cannot be connected to the main grid at reasonable costs. Furthermore, Namibia relies heavily on imports of coal-based electricity, which limits the country’s ability to achieve its pledged sustainability goals. This is quite paradoxical as Namibia has one of the highest solar irradiation levels in the world, providing the possibility to generate large amounts of solar electricity at very low costs and to electrify rural areas through solar off-grid systems. These favorable conditions should be exploited, not least in view of the growing demand for energy, which potentially exacerbates the present situation. This paper therefore presents firstly general challenges for off-grid electrification and subsequently illustrates the effects in Namibia on the example of two off-grid areas in Gam and Tsumkwe. Several deficiencies within the country’s current off-grid approach are revealed, most notably the one-sided off-grid legislation and the neglect of educational outreach to the local community.