The lack of electricity in remote parts of Zambia is all but total. Only four per cent of the population there have access to the grid and the rate of grid expansion is low. But the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is now starting a project to provide two million Zambians who live off the beaten track with access to renewable electricity.

Expanding the national electricity grid is requires major investment. So, to offset the shortage in rural areas, electricity is mainly generated locally. But the methods used to produce it are not only expensive, they are also harmful to the environment and climate.

A market for alternative energy sources and services is emerging, though. Solar panels and related equipment can be leased for domestic use, and micro electricity networks – that are separate from the grid and supplied by solar, wind, biofuel or hydropower ¬– are being constructed.

A Sida-financed scheme called Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia wants to expand this market by encouraging investment in areas that are far from towns and cities, so that more rural Zambians can have access to sustainable energy.

Local energy companies can apply for funding from the scheme, which has set aside SEK 200 million for the purpose until 2021. Because one of the aims is to avoid greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuels, a condition for receiving funding is that the application must concern renewable electricity. Another condition is that the applicant must contribute some of their own capital, too.

This case relates to Global Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy.

This case relates to International Human Solidarity Day.