who will be responsible for the technology on a day-to-day basis, and in
the event of a failure, and the key skills they require. This may be an
individual of a household with an improved cook stove, a group of
operators of a community micro-hydro system, or a local technical services
company. Training programs should be designed to provide hands-on
experience and knowledge of regular maintenance tasks, the life span of
equipment, where to get spare parts and how to diagnose problems and
carry out repairs.
• Promote productive end-uses. Productive energy end uses are highly
desirable to realize increased benefits from the project. Encouraging
diversified and improved livelihoods through the provision of energy can
lead to improved economic and social conditions. However, it is important
to assess the economic situation of the beneficiaries in order to design an
• Ensure project staff have specific experience with renewable energy.
Many people understand very little about energy, especially about
electricity and electricity generation systems. A skilled person is required
to promote understanding about the basic principles of energy, costs,
investment needs and benefits of RETs. Technical competence is very
important in ensuring robust and efficient installations.
• Use appropriate technologies. Energy projects should identify
technologies that are appropriate in terms of affordability and capacity of
local people to operate and maintain. Technologies should be inexpensive
to purchase, operate and maintain whilst retaining high quality. This may
involve use of locally manufactured or imported technologies.
Development of local manufacturing capacity can ensure that skills are
developed and spare parts for maintenance and repair are available
locally, and encourage local employment. Importing goods can ensure the
availability and high quality of products and reduce purchase costs and
(particularly true for solar PV panels and products in Africa). This should
be determined on a country and project specific basis with respect to the
locally available capacity, technology type and project objectives. Ensuring
local capacity for continued operation and maintenance is essential for
• Start with a technical solution. Do not approach a project with a fixed
idea and a technical solution - there is no “one size fits all” technology.
First assess the needs and resources of the beneficiaries, and the local
natural resources. The full range of technologies should be considered
and the most appropriate solution identified with respect to social, cultural,
technical and financial aspects. Participation of beneficiaries is essential
during the consultation process.
• Hold pre-conceived ideas of the beneficiaries. Do not pre-judge what
people like or dislike, or what they consider priorities in their development.
Organize consultations with beneficiaries’ to discuss their point of view on
energy and the project. Do not assume that a community is uniform and
harmonious; often rivalries and power asymmetries exist in groups. It is
important to understand the social and cultural context and encourage
improved relationships. Do not assume that women and men are equally
affected by lack of accessible and affordable energy services.
Renewable Energy to Reduce Poverty in Africa