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close this bookEnergy as a Tool for Sustainable Development for African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (EC - UNDP, 1999, 89 p.)
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View the documentExecutive Summary
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 1: ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 2: THE SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA REGION
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 3: SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES
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Executive Summary


Development is a complex process, with many of its components intricately interwoven. Economic development, for example, can either complement or distort the rate and direction of social development. Countries in the process of transition from agrarian to more diverse economies often find that in many areas they are constrained by an ingredient on which all economies depend: energy services.

As an evolving economy industrialises, its need for energy per unit of GDP increases steeply, before flattening out or even dropping during post-industrialisation, when a more service-based economy begins to emerge. Nevertheless it is critical to recognise that what societies want are the services that energy provides, not fuel or electricity. Small-scale producers, whether farmers, blacksmiths, or master builders, are limited by their access to energy services, as are shopkeepers, truck drivers, teachers, and newspaper publishers. These types of businesses are the engines of development. Scaling up these activities and increasing the development options and opportunities to enable people to work efficiently and effectively is one of the key challenges that developing countries face today.

To complicate this challenge, the energy service requirements of a developing society are extremely diverse. The answers given by participants in a recent workshop held in Uganda when asked to identify their energy service requirements offers a good illustration of this diversity. In order of frequency of mention, the participants highlighted the following:

1 Food processing (including fish smoking, crop drying, timber drying, tobacco and tea processing, and bread baking)

2 Rural industry (including metal workshops, beer brewing, ice making, grain milling, lime production, and brick production)

3 Household lighting

4 Household cooking, baking, and water heating

5 Water pumping for both irrigation and domestic use

6 Entertainment (including radio, television, and music)

7 Refrigeration for hospitals and clinics

8 Transport

Admittedly, this list is specific to one country in Sub-Saharan Africa, but it does indicate the role which energy services play in a wide range of development activities.


For people living in poverty, the priority is to satisfy basic social development needs such as an adequate supply of food, shelter, availability of potable water, sanitation, and access to health services and education. Addressing these problems means addressing the many inadequacies that characterise poverty. In many cases, addressing these issues involves increasing the level of energy services available to poor people.

Hunger is generally agreed to be the worst manifestation of poverty. Increasing the productivity of agriculture in ACP countries will almost certainly involve increasing the availability of additional energy inputs, both direct (pre- and post-harvest) and indirect (fertilisers and pesticides). There is an important opportunity to raise awareness among farmers about the technologies available, and to ensure that the policy environment encourages and facilitates access to the best of these technologies.

Shelter is another area in which energy has a key role. The way in which buildings are designed, the services that are included in their design, and the building materials used, will all dramatically affect both the amount and type of energy inputs, as well as the long-term energy service needs of the residents.

Together with food and adequate shelter, water supply and sanitation are an immediate priority, and vital not only for an improved standard of living, but also for disease prevention. Solving people’s water supply and sanitation needs using the most appropriate and efficient of a range of technologies will ensure that these vital services are supplied as widely as possible.

Once these very basic necessities are provided for, communities will look for the services that will improve their standard of living, including health, education, and better transport. In each of these areas the potential for maximising benefits to communities by choosing energy services wisely is enormous.

One of the main trends that is contributing to poverty in the South is urbanisation, and a key way to slow down that trend is to ensure that people in rural areas can improve their standard of living without moving to the cities. Therefore it is essential to facilitate the adoption of sustainable energy strategies that permeate every level of the economy and can provide rural dwellers with the services that they want and need. At the same time, the planning of land-use zones and transport corridors in urban areas of the developing world will have significant implications for long-term energy use patterns in the South.


The provision of energy services has long had a central role in economic development. Economic development, both rural and urban, large and small-scale, can also be promoted and encouraged by making production processes more efficient, thereby making both the production and the end-products more affordable. Research into new technologies and techniques as well as into making existing equipment more efficient are an important factor here, but in many cases merely auditing the energy efficiency of the production process will bring results. Energy After Rio "seeks to identify practices and policies that will steer the economic system in sustainable directions" and to "understand better the opportunities for increasing the efficiency of materials use and for reducing practices that involve major dissipative (non-recoverable) uses of materials." It goes on to elaborate the strategies that can be used to improve material efficiency, which include:

· "good housekeeping (e.g. reduction in material losses in existing production processes);

· material-efficient production design (e.g. redesign to reduce the amount of material needed to manufacture a functional unit of the product, to increase its lifetime, or to improve its reparability);

· material substitution (e.g. use of a material with a higher material efficiency);

· product reuse (i.e. via redesign of a product to permit renewed use without changing the physical appearance of the product);

· material recycling (i.e. material reuse through the production of secondary materials by mechanical, chemical or other means); and

· quality cascading (i.e. the use of secondary materials for functions that have lower quality demands)."

There are very simple ways in which some of these savings could be made.

In addition, diversifying energy supply systems will direct countries down a more sustainable economic development path. Locally, diversification will further economic activity in both rural and urban areas, as others will soon make the most of energy services in different income-generating activities. The electrification of remote areas has to be planned carefully though. Limited services are soon overwhelmed as communities discover innumerable ways to put any available energy to use and demand grows dramatically and quickly. In the broader economic picture, diversifying energy supply sources improves economic security by lowering dependence on one or two finite primary forms of energy and by reducing the heavy economic burden of energy imports - remote islands, often heavily dependent on energy imports, must pay two or three times the world market price for oil. Furthermore, competition, resulting from the introduction of new role-players into traditional state monopolies, will help to improve the economic performance and efficiency of the sector.


It is a tragic irony that the poor in developing countries often bear the brunt of the consequences of environmental degradation, while their contribution to the causes at both local and global level is often negligible. Clean fuels and efficient public transportation systems can transform the pollution in many homes and in urban areas, improving health dramatically. As industrial and human activity increases, there will be a need to provide or upgrade water treatment facilities, both to ensure a supply of potable water and to avoid poisoning of water bodies and, as a result, of the food chain.

An issue of great relevance to energy services is the effects of global climate change, largely as a result of the amount and method of energy use in developed countries. The resulting sea-level rise will particularly affect small islands and coastal communities, a disproportionate number of which are poor. In addition the unpredictable and intense weather patterns that have been occurring with increasing frequency hit poor and vulnerable communities hardest, as their homes and crops are often destroyed and they rarely have the capital to start over without help. Traditional agricultural practices may no longer be appropriate or viable, as patterns of rainfall and drought change due to altering regional climatic conditions. While until today the South has contributed little to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, its contribution will grow as the pursuit of progress demands increasing use of energy services. As parts of the South become more prosperous, people will use more energy to improve their standard of living, with global environmental consequences. Developing and promoting the most efficient energy supplies and appliances will help to minimise global greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of energy input required to provide a given service.


Sustainable development consists of progress in social development, complemented by economic development, and combined with an awareness of the environmental implications of natural resource use and industrial and economic development. A sustainable energy strategy would supply the kind of energy services that people want, when and where they want them, while advancing social development and minimising the environmental impacts of energy use. Indeed, given the role of energy services across such a wide range of development activities, a sustainable energy strategy can be used as a tool to address integrated development goals. Such a strategy would include the creation of an environment more favourable to the uptake of sustainable energy practices and technologies under prevailing conditions, and target the introduction of specific technologies in ways which would increase energy services for the entire community. To be effective, it is clear that a sustainable energy strategy has to address policies across a range of conventional sectors. However, it is recognised that the energy sector should take the lead in sharing knowledge and experiences.

This report looks at energy policies and practices and suggests how their potential as a driving force for sustainable development could be harnessed in two important regions, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Small Island Developing States (ACP SIDS). The report identifies both the challenges that must be met before sustainable energy strategies can be effectively implemented in each region, and the many opportunities that exist for governments, the private sector, development cooperation agencies, and other role-players to accelerate their adoption. SSA and ACP SIDS have huge renewable energy resources, from traditional biomass to marine resources, but these resources are vastly underexploited and conventional solutions continue to dominate. Illustrations of innovative projects show that there are proven alternatives, and the sections in Chapters 2 and 3 from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Mali, Barbados, and Fiji describe the contribution that sustainable energy strategies would make to the development of those countries. The wide array of proven renewable energy and energy efficiency mechanisms already available and appropriate for use in these regions is described, demonstrating that the technologies are ready, if only the policy environment nurtured them, instead of discouraging them.


The energy sector is still driven primarily by issues of supply instead of demand. The conditions that exist in the South today should define the strategies used to supply people with the energy services that they need to achieve sustainable development. The reality is that it is the energy supply models that evolved in the North - based on two centuries of industrialisation and urbanisation - that continue to drive the energy sector.

If countries in the North were to work together, and to work with policy-makers in the South, that model could be turned around to focus on the demands of energy users. If that were to happen, then there is every chance that sustainable energy strategies could be devised that will support and promote sustainable development. There is a desperate need for development cooperation agencies to look carefully at the energy interventions that they are funding and to ask if those interventions are helping to provide sustainable solutions. There is an enormous amount of research to be done in assessing the potential of and developing end-use efficiencies, cleaner technologies, renewable resources, and the market for these renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Many of the technologies in question are already commercialised, but others need further development or need to be adapted to suit conditions in the South, particularly to make them affordable. Ministries of Energy in the South are chronically under-resourced, and do not have the capacity to plan how to meet their Agenda 21 commitments, or how to restructure their domestic energy sector to provide an enabling environment for the dissemination and exploitation of renewable and energy efficient technologies. Development cooperation agencies can provide capacity for Southern governments to find and access the information that they need, and fund regional research and development and cooperation, in order to get the best value for money.

Since projects addressing development cooperation priorities (centering on poverty alleviation, job creation, and the improvement of basic services such as education, health, and water supply) often depend on sources of energy that are secure, affordable, and appropriate to the end-use, projects which address these priorities have been a principal means of disseminating energy technologies. Where energy has not been included or thought out in such projects until a late stage, however, users have often been saddled with inappropriate or costly technologies.


The key to providing energy services that promote sustainable development is reform of the policy environment in which energy decisions are made. Until an enabling policy framework is created in which a variety of enterprises are encouraged to provide sustainable energy services to communities, top-down conventional energy supply will continue to dominate. Even with the best will, this environment cannot be created overnight, however.

There are many challenges to the creation of this environment. These challenges fall into seven basic categories:

· Regional cooperation and coordination
· Institutional, legislative, and regulatory environments
· Capacity building
· Energy pricing, taxes, and subsidies
· Finance mechanisms
· Information
· Technology choice and development

Research into the best ways to overcome these challenges and information detailing best practice will be an investment in the development of sustainable societies.


Many of the countries considered in this study have no national energy plan, while some have progressive and sustainable energy strategies that their neighbours could learn from. Neighbouring countries can share climatic and geographic conditions, but have attained very different levels of development. There is no time to waste, and every effort must be made to ensure that the lessons that have already been learned are shared with those who could benefit most.

In the case of the small island states, economies of scale may only be achieved if states work in a coordinated way to develop regional strategic plans. Ensuring consistency in regulations and standards among Caribbean islands, for example, will give energy service providers or manufacturers of adapted renewable energy technologies access to viable markets. Identifying the common problems and sharing research activities among countries will begin to build capacity in all countries, instead of just the favoured few. There are already some active regional development and energy organisations among island states. Their success should be encouraged and copied in other parts of the world.

The regional trade of energy is also extremely important. Large energy projects may be viable only if their potential markets include several countries in a region. Regional energy fora will encourage neighbouring countries to consider whether cooperation on energy production is feasible - it can prove less expensive than isolated or national options. A study in Burkina Faso showed that a grid interconnection with either Ghana or the Ivory Coast would be a better solution than the diesel- and oil-fired plants which are being installed.

Development cooperation agencies can coordinate their own work too, to avoid the duplication and overlap that exists now. Cooperation agencies can also encourage regional development banks to increase their technical and financial assistance to sustainable energy projects. There is room for better coordination and planning within cooperation agencies, and better education for staff working in all sectors, not just energy.


It is important that all countries prepare an integrated sustainable energy strategy to use energy as an instrument, planning the ways in which they can use energy more efficiently and appropriately to meet the needs of their citizens. The use of renewable and energy efficient technologies should form an essential part of these strategies. Jamaica, for example, has an energy policy which seeks to diversify its energy base, encourage the development of indigenous energy resources where economically viable and technically feasible, and ensure the security of energy supplies.

The main role of policy-makers in the energy sector is to create a framework of laws and standards in which the market is encouraged to thrive but the social development and environmental goals of nations are not neglected. Private enterprises are unlikely to share the same development goals as the state, so regulatory bodies can ensure that access to energy services is extended to the whole population.

Most developing countries have signed up to international agreements, from Agenda 21 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, that have implications for energy and the environment. Regulatory bodies can work with the government to ensure that obligations are being met and are integrated into energy planning. The SIDS Programme of Action translates Agenda 21 into specific policies, actions, and measures, for example.

Regulatory bodies - which could be national or regional - could be set up to prepare guidelines to which all stakeholders could work. This would ensure that communities and countries will be installing more efficient and up-to-date technologies and systems, and that the off-loading of second-rate equipment is avoided. In West Africa, for example, there is no standard LPG tank, and this lack of coordination has reduced the potential market for energy providers considerably.

To inform regulatory bodies, institutions with the capacity and resources to carry out sound scientific and technical research could be created or, where they exist already, supported. These bodies could play an extremely important role in educating all stakeholders. One example is the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, which applies geoscience to the management and sustainable development of the non-living resources of the region. The commission is also working with interested Pacific SIDS in the formulation of long-term national energy policy statements. Supporting organisations like this, which support local technical research and development, will build long-term skills and knowledge.

Regulations are necessary to guide the private sector and to protect the consumer, and should not be limited to the technical aspects of energy systems. Regulations are limited only by a lack of vision; where appropriate, for example, they could ensure that energy service providers have consulted widely and participatively with end-users before any system is installed. The US National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has found that informed participation is the most important single success factor in all the developing country solar PV projects that it has analysed.

It is not only energy generating systems that could be subject to minimum standards. Research into other sectors of the economy, such as transport, construction, and industrial production, will reveal a myriad of other energy-saving measures. Transport systems could be designed to use energy more efficiently, and can be gradually adapted to use biofuels. Locally produced building materials can often be produced with much less energy than imported cement, for example, and buildings constructed to suit local climatic conditions - saving energy used for heating and cooling. The production of basic industrial materials, such as steel, can be carried out with much less energy than currently if the most up-to-date technology is installed.

It is more efficient if products are marketable in the widest geographic area possible. Ensuring that quality standards and specifications are common to natural regional grouping will encourage economies of scale. The World Health Organisation, working with the United Nation Fund for Children (UNICEF), set international performance standards for PV refrigerators and now insists that these be met by all projects that it funds. The PV Global Accreditation Programme is supporting an industry-led effort to approve standards for PV components and systems in developing countries.


Strong institutions will be the backbone of an efficient and effective energy sector, and there is no point in creating institutions if their staff will not have the training and resources to work effectively. It is difficult to start new, good, locally based institutions from scratch without depriving all the existing organisations of their best staff. Building on existing institutional capacities will often be the most effective approach. In Ghana an alternative model was used - a loose network of local expertise that was a formal channel for advising and interacting with government.

Ongoing professional training in public administration and management at all levels of government and in all parastatal organisations could improve the situation greatly. Joint projects are effective ways to develop capacity. Policy-makers, teamed with local policy analysts/trainers, could jointly develop policy and implement programmes, thereby building both local capacity and confidence.

A scientific research and development body needs to have not only the scientific training, but also the resources to collaborate with other organisations, and the training to communicate and disseminate their work effectively.

Training in all aspects of business is important for would-be entrepreneurs, particularly where the existing small business sector is small or non-existent. It is not just the traditional skills of accounting and sales that are important. Some businesses will be importing equipment, and trying to market a product, that has no history with potential customers. They will also need to provide after-sales service and in some cases train communities to operate and maintain the equipment themselves. In the Dominican Republic, an NGO spent several years running training programmes with local technicians and entrepreneurs to create a pool of people who had sufficient knowledge to install and maintain PV systems to a standard which enabled propagation of a good reputation. The private PV market is now beginning to thrive on the island.

Lessons learned in social development about participatory technology development should be integrated into all capacity building. Involving communities from the beginning in decisions about energy supply will reap rewards. The community must define the end-uses that are most important for them, decide what they are willing to pay for different levels of service, and, based on a wide range of choices, plan for future needs. Offering communities choices and educating them about the implications of those choices will lead to informed decision-making and energy use. The Jamaica Public Service Company runs a demand-side management project designed to influence residential and commercial customers’ use of electricity in ways that will produce changes in the utility’s load profile, reduce customers’ bills, and reduce the company’s generation costs. Activities include the provision of compact fluorescent lamps and other energy efficient devices at no cost to 100 participants to establish the technical criteria regarding equipment performance, customer response, and installation problems in this small pilot group. In the second phase proven energy efficiency measures will be offered to 30,000 randomly selected customers island-wide at a discounted price.


Governments have long recognised the importance of energy to the development of their economy and society, and so they have sought to make it available to as many people as possible, as cheaply as possible, by subsidising its cost. These policies were well-intentioned, but based on a number of unproven assumptions. Research carried out during the last decade has shown that it is in fact the poorest people who pay the most for their energy services. In fact, poor people’s willingness and capacity to pay for services is higher than policy-makers have assumed, partly because the amount that people are paying for batteries, battery-charging, small quantities of kerosene, and in some cases fuelwood, is more than policy-makers had realised. A recent survey in Uganda discovered that there are more rural and peri-urban households with private access to electricity from car batteries than there are public sector grid-connected households in the whole country. They pay on average 20 times the urban tariff, and spend over US$10 a month on candles, lighting, kerosene, dry cell batteries, and recharging car batteries - or US$320 million nationally every year.

Energy technology and equipment that has to be imported is often taxed at very high rates, making the initial capital costs of even very energy efficient technologies higher than they need be, and preventing their dissemination. Renewable energy products such as solar PV and water-heating systems, and the materials used to manufacture them locally, are often subject to government import duties and taxes that can increase their market price relative to conventional fuels - by 40 to 50% such as in Zimbabwe, for example.

The result of well-intentioned subsidy policies is that most state energy providers lose money by providing cheap energy to customers that are easy to reach and in many cases are most able to pay for it, while poor and/or remote customers continue to pay much more. The energy suppliers cannot afford to extend their supply to the remote customers, and new, private energy service providers cannot possibly compete with the low, subsidised prices charged by the state providers.

If the private sector is to begin to provide energy services, then pricing, taxes, and subsidies will need to be reformed. Energy pricing should ideally reflect, or be moving towards reflecting, the true costs, so that customers can make informed decisions. Sustainable energy strategies will identify the energy systems that represent, in the long term, the most sustainable forms of supply. If some of these technologies need to be subsidised to enable them to gain a footing, then such subsidies must be open, universal, and time-bound. It is important that these decisions are made in cooperation with the private sector and regulated so that customers know they are getting value for money. Since the mid-1980s the Government of Ghana has financed sustainable energy projects using small levies on petroleum products. With a current petroleum product consumption of about one million tonnes, over US$400,000 is raised annually. This sum is paid into an "Energy Fund" and used to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

It is not just energy supply systems that are affected by subsidies and taxes. The import or use of energy efficient equipment or materials in other sectors can also be influenced by subsidies and taxes. Equipment to enable producers to make building materials from local materials could be encouraged, while industrial equipment that does not use the efficient technology available could be discouraged - if not rejected. Setting minimum standards of efficiency will enable newly industrialising countries to avoid wasteful appliances, for example, by permitting only the import or manufacture of appliances that meet these standards.


Countries wishing to install large hydroelectric dams to supply electricity grids or to extend grids have several financing options open to them. Countries wishing to install hundreds of micro-hydro systems or PV systems, or to enable entrepreneurs or communities to do so, have more difficulties.

The banking system is simply not set up to administer profitably long-term loans to scattered customers with no credit history or collateral. There are a number of ways that this problem is being overcome, and some are described in this report, but more research into innovative ways of financing is needed. In some countries small loans are amalgamated into one large loan through an intermediary, with the risk guaranteed by the government (See Box 4). In other cases the independent energy producers themselves build credit arrangements into the purchase of their products as in the case of a Global Environment Fund (GEF) PV project in Zimbabwe. Loans made to communities have in some cases been paid off by income-generating activities which were built in from the beginning, such as battery charging.

In Morocco, for example, several initiatives are helping villagers to form cooperative associations to own, manage, and finance their diesel-based mini-grids. The NGO bulk-buys the equipment, and raises some 40% of the capital costs, and a further 10-20% as costs in kind for labour and local materials.

In several other countries, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) are providing financing packages as well as technical expertise. They can be paid relative to performance - a commission on savings achieved, for example. Few, if any, rural ESCOs are recovering their costs - they have to depend on some form of operational subsidy or grant. This position could change, however, as technology costs fall and markets and experience lower operating costs.

In the Dominican Republic, it was calculated that only 10% of the population could afford to pay cash for a PV system, but another 50% could afford monthly payments spread over two or three years, provided credit was available. As a result, a company there has instigated both credit and leasing systems, increasing substantially their customer base and, in the case of leasing, allowing customers to try before they buy.

Development cooperation agencies can help states which aim to maximise the share of renewable and energy efficient technologies that make up their national energy system by investigating innovative ways of financing these solutions and disseminating examples of best practice.


The importance of information in overcoming all the challenges here cannot be overemphasised.

This report gives a rough sketch of the energy picture in Sub-Saharan Africa and ACP SIDS, but there is still a great lack of information in most countries that could form the basis of baseline studies. Research is needed not only to consolidate or establish basic information, but to record and explore the innovative ways in which people are fulfilling their energy service needs. Policy-makers and energy providers need to know not only how much energy people are using and in what form, but why they have chosen those methods, and who in the family and in the community prioritises and decides on how limited supplies of energy are used. Basic market assessments are vital.

In the North, the average citizen is often overwhelmed by the amount of information available, and new technologies such as the Internet are making ever more information available at ever greater speeds. The picture could not be more different in most areas of the South.

Technologies are available to improve efficiency for all energy users. Women who spend hours gathering fuelwood for all their cooking, heating, and crop drying needs could cut that time - and improve their health - by using improved efficiency and/or smokeless cooking stoves, or low-cost crop dryers, or in some cases by using more appropriate methods of transportation than headloading to collect their fuel. These technologies exist and have been extensively tested, but unless information about how to make or buy them is disseminated to those who want them, much research and development has been wasted. All technology development projects should have information dissemination through appropriate methods of communication and commercialisation built in from the beginning, and successful technologies should be adapted for similar markets. One of the most successful improved stoves is the Kenya ceramic jiko. It was actually adapted from the Thai Bucket Stove, and has gone on to be adapted itself, into the diambar stove of Senegal. The key to success was not just the design, but also a persistent and sound approach, including careful market assessment, production testing, market trials, and commercialisation.

Urban customers - and their numbers are growing rapidly - should be able to choose from a number of energy options, and will probably find a hybrid solution most appropriate. Solar water heating; PV panels for electricity; efficient and smokeless biofuel cooking stoves; clean bottled gas for cooking and water heating; electricity from the grid where it exists; and better home design to maximise energy efficiency are some of the typical options. Without reliable accessible information in their own language, these consumers will not be able to make informed choices about the technologies that they use.

At the other end of the scale, the acceptable ways of planning and constructing massive energy infrastructure projects have also changed dramatically. A public consultation process, in which everyone who will be affected is given full information about the project, is necessary before any construction can be scheduled. These participatory techniques are already in use and should be applied systematically.

Independent power producers and energy service providers (where they exist) need to be fully informed about the goals of the government and the needs of end-users, as well as about all the technology options available and all the ways that these might be financed. If they are to offer customers the best value for money, a comprehensive and ongoing programme of information must be available that ties in with the actions of policy-makers.

Information needs will extend beyond the technologies. Consumers will need to have the information to make an informed choice about the services being offered by different providers once the markets are genuinely competitive. Few people have used credit, but leasing, group loans, and other potential financing mechanisms must all be explained, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each method. If service providers are to be profitable, they will have to stimulate the market by encouraging consumers to think about innovative ways of getting the services they want. People may be able to afford a solar water heater or PV panel that serves a block of houses, for example, even if none of the houses could afford one individually. Communities may find that the electricity produced by a stand-alone energy system to provide lighting is too expensive, but if that electricity was put to use charging batteries during the day, possibly as an income-generating project, the system may well be viable. A PV panel could be used to chargeup a satellite mobile telephone, which can be used as a payphone, reducing the travel and transport needs of remote communities.

Objective comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages of all the different renewable energy and energy efficient technologies - and their merits relative to conventional systems - need to be made and disseminated widely. This should not be limited to input and output costs. PV systems or a diesel generator may provide the electricity that people want, but how many local jobs do they provide compared to an efficient wood-fired power plant with a managed woodlot?

Professionals and policy-makers who do not think of themselves as working in the ‘energy sector’ need to understand the role of energy in their work. Collaborative projects in many sectors will be needed to demonstrate the link between energy efficiency and increased productivity throughout the economy.

This information famine can be corrected through research but also through ensuring wider access to new information and communication technologies. Traditional methods of communication such as theatre should not be ignored, and there is widespread evidence that behaviour messages - such as hygiene practices, water use, or energy efficiency - can be communicated effectively this way.


The developing world has two advantages on its side when it comes to energy technologies. Most countries have abundant energy resources, particularly renewable energy resources. And in many countries the lack of developed infrastructure outside of the main cities means that they can start with a "clean slate", and have an opportunity to "leapfrog" the less efficient energy systems that most industrialised countries are committed to.

In all cases the greatest short and medium-term gains will be in saving energy and improving energy efficiency. From simple, efficient cooking stoves to improved transmission and distribution of electricity, efficiency should be promoted and supported by legislative and financial incentives. An improved Mirte biomass stove in Ethiopia is designed for baking the cereal-based staple injera, an activity which accounts for 50% of Ethiopia’s primary energy consumption and over 75% of all household energy use. A typical twice-weekly injera baking session consumes 10kg of woody biomass. The Mirte uses only 50-60% as much fuel, saving about half a tonne of fuel per stove annually.

Some renewable energy technologies are tried and tested but could still be improved, while others are still in development. Renewable energy and energy efficient technologies are often modular, and so are both suitable for use in remote areas and appropriate for small investors. One factor holding back all these technologies is the lack of investment in research and development. The amount of money spent on energy research is heavily weighted in favour of conventional and high-tech solutions. The opportunity to develop renewable and energy efficient technologies and to disseminate them before the South chooses the conventional route may be lost unless funding of sustainable solutions is stepped up immediately. The implications of these two options for climate change mitigation are immense.

Sustainable energy technologies include some high-tech solutions, such as thin-film PV technology, fuel cells, high-efficiency biomass gasifiers and gas turbines, solar-hydrogen systems, etc., which are unlikely to be developed in the South in the near future. There is a great need for collaborative research into adapting high-tech solutions, however, to make them more appropriate for conditions in the South, for example by making them more robust, reliable, low cost, and portable.

There are other technologies, such as improved stoves, that are already appropriately designed for some Southern countries, but could be adapted to suit more countries. Variations in production processes to take account of local materials, house designs, food preparation and consumption habits, marketing, and commercialisation will all have to be considered for technology transfer to be successful.

Small village-based gasifiers and bizogas plants are popular and widespread in India. Where supported by local communities, this technology could be adapted and tested for Sub-Saharan Africa and ACP SIDS.

Medium-scale energy options which could supply the national electricity grid or isolated grids, such as wind farms, power from biomass and refuse incinerators, or micro-hydro, have been investigated and tested in developing countries. The first of 19 recommendations adopted by the participants in a seminar organised in Morocco in 1996 on decentralised rural electrification (DRE) was that "a major and immediate change of scale and pace is recommended in the implementation of DRE and increased attention should now be given to the implementation of these technological options."

Biofuels produced from biomass crops have great potential, and policy-makers should look to Latin America and Asia for examples. They will not be appropriate for every situation as crops need to be reliable and labour needs are high, but in some situations they will provide much-needed jobs as well as clean fuel. It may be appropriate to subsidise biofuel until demand grows and it becomes the obvious choice instead of the alternative. Ethanol production from local biomass to reduce oil imports was developed in the Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe sugarcane industries in the 1970s. Today, Malawi still blends ethanol in petrol at rates of up to 20%, but persistent low oil prices and periodic droughts have weakened the region’s ethanol industries.

Biofuels could play an important role in relieving ACP SIDS’ dependency on petroleum - one-third of Jamaica’s foreign exchange earnings are used to pay for imported fuel. In addition, transporting fuel to remote stations in outer islands is expensive, irregular, and loading can be hazardous - many outer islands have no wharf or jetty and the fuel must be floated ashore in drums. During the 1980s there was considerable interest shown by a number of Pacific SIDS in using copra oil as a fuel in diesel engines. In Samoa a large, slow-speed 250 kW diesel generator was run on pure crude copra oil, as were a number of the electricity corporation’s heavy-duty trucks.

Hybrid systems should be evaluated under various conditions to determine appropriate combinations for diverse use. Intermittent renewables, such as wind and solar, could be combined with conventional supplies, such as diesel and biomass. This solution will not always be appropriate, particularly for remote islands or communities, as the capital costs will be higher and skilled technicians - often in short supply - will be needed for two or more technologies.

The costs of electricity transmission, distribution, wiring, and metering can be reduced through improved efficiencies. Combined with energy efficiency measures, this could make grid extensions more viable. Development cooperation agencies could play an important role here, funding secondments and placements between large grid-based power companies in the North and their Southern counterparts. Southern electricity distributors need on-site advice and demonstrations from skilled professionals, but they also need to see the diversity of solutions employed across a range of other distributors.

The most common electricity end-uses should be as efficient as possible, and these technologies or appliances (such as compact fluorescent light bulbs) have to be promoted with the same vigour as energy efficient supply technologies. As countries develop, the demand for labour-saving appliances will grow, so this must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Countries can plan for this by agreeing regional minimum standards for efficiency, thereby creating a market large enough for retail prices to be reasonable.

Finally, some ocean technologies, such as marine current turbines, are at advanced stages of development in the North. ACP SIDS should be involved in assessing their own potentials for using these technologies, which are heavily site-dependent, and cooperation in the development and adaptation of this technology should be encouraged.


Experience has taught us that an energy sector dominated by government agencies has neither the flexibility nor the reach to provide the diversity of choice that consumers need to fulfil their energy service needs. However, the role of government is an important one, as only they can create the right policy environment - one in which competition among providers is encouraged where possible, but within an effective regulatory framework - that will enable independent energy service providers of many types to thrive. Northern governments have been making this transition during the last decade, and they have some experience to share. Analysing and disseminating this experience in ways that are appropriate to the developing world - particularly by keeping the social and environmental goals of poverty eradication and sustainability in focus - is vital. The development of national and regional sustainable energy strategies will put into place a framework in which each country has planned to build a policy environment that will encourage and enable the provision of energy services in a way which is most appropriate to that country.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the reform of energy sector regulations will enable and encourage energy providers to offer a wide variety of energy services on different scales to both households and businesses. Capacity building to inform consumers and potential providers about the technologies available, as well as research to both adapt existing technologies and devise new ones, will be a cornerstone of sustainable energy systems. Large conventional power installations should only proceed where they are the best option after considering many, and where the needs of the region have been taken into account during planning, costing and building. A rapidly increasing population will be demanding more energy services, and plans to satisfy this demand will have to be scaled up dramatically if they are to be adequate. If energy initiatives are linked and planned across sectors, then goals of social and economic development can be addressed together.

Capacity building will be equally important to the development of sustainable energy services in ACP SIDS. Useful information and successful practical applications often exist but, partly as a result of geography, remain isolated. Information sharing among islands which have similar social and physical conditions will promote good practice, particularly where participation is high and projects are evaluated properly and the results disseminated. Training in the role of the private sector in providing energy services will be needed where the government has been the sole provider, from technical training through to business planning, marketing, maintenance, and credit options. SIDS also have an important opportunity to be at the forefront of tidal and marine technology development, and partnerships and collaboration with Northern engineering should be encouraged.

The implications of profligate energy use have never been more clear than they are at the end of the twentieth century. We have hard evidence that the amount and type of energy that the North uses to maintain a lifestyle that most of the rest of the world aspires to is having grave consequences on our climate and our environment. Although it is too early to define precisely the relationship between global climate change and human activity, evidence of the effects of climate change are already starting to appear, so it is important to act swiftly. We are already too late to prevent some of the scientists’ predictions from happening, but through considered action we can minimise the damage, and at the same time the citizens of the South can get access to the energy services they need to develop their societies in a sustainable way. The challenge is to promote sustainable development while limiting the negative impact of human activities on the climate.

The resources that will be needed to affect this change are tremendous, both in terms of funding and the amount of work to be done. The greatest change can be affected, however, by structuring the policy environment to provide incentives for people to use energy efficiently, and by making the information and skills available to translate will into action.

Annex I of this report lists the work that the cooperation agencies of the North are currently involved in and/or funding. There is clearly some overlap, and there is a need for coordination and cooperation to document and disseminate best practice, whether it be in technology development or in innovative financing schemes. It will also be crucial to extend an invitation to professionals in other sectors, such as health, education, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transport, telecommunications, community development, etc., and to include them in energy planning, especially to focus on energy efficiency. Nevertheless, the energy sector has to make the first move and document the way in which renewable and energy efficient technologies and systems can help those professionals to reach their own development goals.

Finally, there is still much technology research and development to be done, and more of this will have to take place in the South. Cooperation agencies can help to set up or support scientific research bodies who will be capable of innovating, adapting, and standardising technology that is appropriate for each region. Pilot projects should only take place where they contribute to policy as well as technology goals, and they should advance knowledge, not simply repeat work carried out by other agencies. All new work should to be monitored and evaluated to ensure that lessons are learned, and that those lessons are disseminated widely.