As part of PIDG, InfraCo Africa is active in addressing two of the three key strands of Zambia’s Climate Response Strategy – sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.[v] Our projects seek to deliver sustainable economic development, to attract local and international finance and expertise and also to foster Zambia’s climate resilience and attractiveness as a partner for future deals. PIDG Technical Assistance (PIDG TA) has also supported our projects in Zambia for many years.
With support from the governments of the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland, InfraCo Africa has been working in Zambia for sixteen years. We started out in agri-infrastructure, working with smallholder and commercial farmers in the Kafue District to develop the Chanyanya Irrigation
project. We are hugely proud of the project which has addressed the impact of rainfall fluctuations on food security by enabling a smallholder cooperative to pool its land in order to make irrigation commercially viable at the same time as creating access to irrigation for the smallholders themselves. An important aspect of our work in Kafue District is to build the capacity of local management to manage the Chanyanya commercial farm.
PIDG TA played a key role in developing the Chanyanya pilot alongside us, and also in supporting the much larger Chiansi Irrigation
project – ‘future-proofed’ by being designed to irrigate a much larger area – which will be commissioned next year.
Working with a local private sector partner, InfraCo Africa is also active in developing Zambia’s renewable energy sector through our support for the 180MW run-of-river Ngonye Falls Hydropower project
in the country’s Western Province. A key factor in the vulnerability of Zambia’s existing hydropower generation lies in the fact that it is concentrated in two large hydropower plants in the centre and south of the country. If new hydropower is developed sensitively, Zambia’s rivers have significant untapped potential to generate further clean energy for the national grid – in this case predictable, reliable, variable baseload power – which can complement the intermittency of other new renewable sources, such as solar, and allow Zambia’s large dams to be deployed more as grid-wide batteries than as leading sources of supply. The project has been structured so that the Barotse Royal Establishment holds a stake in the power plant on behalf of the people of the Western Province. We are working to establish community trusts to ensure that local communities can maximise the community benefit of plant revenues, something with potential for replication on other infrastructure developments.
InfraCo Africa’s investment arm has supported the establishment and growth of Africa GreenCo
– Zambia’s first intermediary renewable energy buyer and services provider. Africa GreenCo has ambitions to transform the Zambian power market by purchasing power from renewable IPPs and selling that electricity to utilities, private sector off takers and competitive markets of the Southern Africa Power Pool. This is a ground-breaking approach and has the potential to transform energy markets in Zambia and the wider region
Beyond the grid, I also see huge potential for Zambia to develop off-grid energy to accelerate clean energy access for communities in more rural areas, a sector in which InfraCo Africa has a strong track record.