|Basic Electrification for Rural Households (GTZ, 1992, 28 p.)|
|6. An appropriate dissemination strategy for shs and the role of GTZ|
So far, we have focused our attention on the importance of creating the prerequisites for successful dissemination that are required in specific situations.
Before concluding our discussion, however, we would also like to point out a few essential aspects which are common to dissemination processes in all countries.
For instance, it is always vital to secure the participation of policy-makers at the highest level right from the beginning, i. e. starting with the project design phase. This has become standard practice in all of our more recent projects, and meeting this objective often calls for the assignment of a full-time staff member to handle this task alone (energy-policy adviser).
When it comes to the actual implementation process at the project level, the situation is more varied. As the examples cited above show, the spectrum of possible strategies ranges from exclusive reliance on private enterprise through approaches involving cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and self-help groups, to collaboration between the private sector and government institutions. In every case, though, project planners must attempt to identify the particular organizational set-up that will best serve the interests of the users.
Although this organizational arrangement will vary from country to country, certain roles can be assigned to each of the principal actors, thus yielding a generally applicable "division of labour" that can be used in all projects.
When decisions are taken in the area of development policy and economic policy to promote the use of photovoltaics, the government and its institutions must restrict themselves to the performance of certain functions:
- They must not perform commercial marketing functions.
- They must not undermine commercial distribution by providing inappropriate subsidies.
- They must not promote local production if this would be detrimental to the interests of the users (toleration of inferior quality in order to maximize the "local content" of systems).
- They should:
- Eliminate or reduce duties on imported PV components, even if they are also produced domestically, so as to make the systems more affordable for the target group.
- Ensure that the prices charged for competing products (kerosene, lamp oil) reflect their true economic costs.
- Provide for quality control by establishing and enforcing equipment standards (granting of technical "seals of approval").
- Monitor competition among SHS vendors.
- Enable vendors to provide financing to users by ensuring that they have access to appropriate credit facilities.
- Monitor the overall dissemination process and assess its effectiveness.
- Create a favourable climate for dissemination by leading the way in the utilization of the technology, e. 9. by supplying PV systems to institutions such as schools where they will be highly visible and help to create a public awareness of the technology and its benefits.
- Take steps to overcome social disparities, e. g. by supplying equipment to public health-care centres which serve disadvantaged segments of the population.
- Possibly extend credits to purchasers of SHS.
- Create Incentives for private investors in the PV sector.
- Integrate the development of renewable energy (RE) resources into the framework of national energy planning and policy-making.
- Facilitate the relevant activities of self-help groups, cooperatives, NGOs, etc.
Makers of photovoltaic equipment in industrialized countries also have an important role to play. If they wish to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the markets in developing countries, they must:
- Adapt their systems in accordance with operating conditions in those countries and the needs of local target groups.
- Take the initiative and assume the entrepreneurial risks involved in marketing their systems.
- Transfer know-how to local manufacturers and distributors and work with them to provide reliable after-sales service.
- Develop suitable financing and product warranty schemes in cooperation With local institutions and companies so as to reduce the risks incurred by purchasers of SHS.
- Be willing to enter into joint ventures with local companies.
Finally, a TC organization like GTZ must perform the following tasks:
- Provision of advice to governments regarding the selection and evaluation of strategy options (e. g. commercial distribution vs. subsidization).
- Provision of support for long-term dissemination, for example through a dialogue with user groups and decision-makers.
- Technical assistance in the area of financing to help distributors obtain the capital required to purchase PV systems.
- Provision of technical know-how, training of local technicians and artisans, and promotion of efforts to establish and enforce high product quality standards.
- Advisory assistance to distributors.
- Sharing of information with component manufacturers to help them improve the quality of their products.
GTZ must make its support contingent on the fulfilment of a number of preconditions that are essential for the success of dissemination measures:
- The developing country must demonstrate that it is in fact interested in the dissemination of PV technologies, e. g. by providing for the development of solar energy and other RE resources in a five-year plan.
- The public-sector institution which serves as GTZ's counterpart organization must agree that government agencies will play only a secondary role in the dissemination process, i. e. that their contribution will be limited to creating a favourable overall environment for the diffusion of the technology.
- The developing country must pledge to make certain contributions of its own, e. 9. by equipping public facilities in rural areas with PV systems.
- The institutions collaborating with GTZ must ensure that there will be sufficient latitude for cooperation with private enterprises.
An institution at the policy-formulation level would be the most appropriate counterpart organization for GTZ. The most valuable contribution that GTZ can make to a dissemination process is to allow local institutions to benefit from its extensive experience with different project approaches around the world, which enables it to provide sound advice and meaningful support to both the users and the vendors of PV systems.
Thus, the range of services that could be included in a GTZ assistance package cover the following:
- Selection of appropriate counterparts.
- Development of appropriate individualized implementation strategies, including schedules, definition of tasks and phases, realistic cost calculations, and integration of individual tasks into the general framework of energy supply planning.
- Assistance in creating a favourable overall climate for the initial phase of such a measure.
- Measures to ensure that the design of the systems offered for sale to the target groups and the installation procedures are appropriate to the needs of the users.
- Competent advice for producers and suppliers of PV systems.
- Specialized training for local counterparts.
- Realistic assessment of follow-up costs.
- Analysis of the ecological and socio-cultural impacts of project measures.
- Promotion of an exchange of information and experience among developing countries (South-South cooperation) in order to avoid a duplication of effort.
If the various actors are assigned the right roles in the dissemination process and their activities are coordinated properly, then the developing countries may be able to make the transition to an energy supply in which solar power plays a substantial role more quickly than the industrialized nations. If GTZ continues to receive the support of the German government In its efforts to promote solar energy utilization and it maintains its current working relationship with the German solar equipment industry, it will be able to help establish the environmentally friendly PV technology as a mayor, long-term energy supply option in the Third World, especially for the target group of smallholder households.
Those who are responsible for formulating energy policy and setting priorities for the future development of the energy sector in developing nations should endeavour to assess the potential contribution of solar power in their countries, and if they decide to exploit this energy resource through the large-scale dissemination of household PV systems, they can rely on GTZ to provide a broad range of technical-assistance and other support services.