|Overview : |
The electrification backlog and, based on this, the lack of access to modern energy services is particularly marked in rural Lesotho. Indeed, 91.35% of the country’s rural population remains un-electrified and in many instances, given the low population densities and distributed character of settlement patterns, will remain so for the foreseeable future. This situation is untenable given the developmental importance of access to modern energy services as well as the Lesotho’s government and, indeed, international commitment to universal access. Universal Access is an objective that have been championed by the UN’s SE4All, a key organisation in the commitment to universal access to sustainable energy. The SE4ALL’s mission to empower leaders and governments to ensure universal access to sustainable energy resources underpins the mutual commitment between the Government of Lesotho, represented by the Ministry of Energy and Meteorology, and the United Nations Development Programme to enhancing access to modern energy services in rural Lesotho.
The Sustainable Energy for All project titled “Development of Cornerstone Public Policies and Institutional Capacities to accelerate Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Progress” is an initiative co-funded by UNDP/GEF as well as the Government of Lesotho to the direct project value of US$ 3.9 million (secured principally from Global Environment Facility -GEF). The objective of the project is to catalyse investments in renewable energy-based mini-grids and energy centres to reduce GHG emissions and contribute to the achievement of Lesotho’s Vision 2020 and SE4All goals. The project was conceptualized and submitted to GEF in 2014. A fully-fledged project document (Prodoc) was developed and submitted to GEF in September 2015. The GEF approved the project in May 2016 for implementation up to the year 2021. The approved project was further presented to Local Appraisal Committee (LPAC) on June 2016 for approval, which was followed by an Inception workshop held on 24th November 2016, where the project was launched.
The project design is effectively two-fold; assisting with the creation of an enabling framework to support the long-term investment in off-grid energy service delivery and, importantly, piloting various energy service delivery options with a particular emphasis on mini-grids and more distributed energy service options referred to as energy centres. The project will be implemented in the five selected mountainous districts of Lesotho namely Mohale’s Hoek, Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Qacha’s Nek and Quthing. Although they are difficult and expensive to reach by the national grid extension, they are generally rich in at least one renewable energy resource. A number of villages in these districts were considered for mini-grid implementation and others for energy centres using elaborate selection criteria. The project is designed to lay the foundations of a successful, post-project, rural energization initiative. Indeed, the project was designed to catalyse investments in renewable energy-based mini-grids and energy centres. It will do so by leveraging $22,767,837 in multilateral and private sector financing over the project/immediate post-project implementation period. Over the project and post-project period, 60 villages will be energised through the utilisation of renewable energy technologies and 20 energy centres will be established to each service at least 5 surrounding villages. Energisation of the 60 villages and establishment of the 20 energy centres villages will result in a total of 213,680 tonnes of CO2 being abated during the project/immediate post-project period, resulting in a direct abatement cost of $ 16/tonne of CO2. The project will achieve this target by introducing a conducive regulatory framework and by establishing a financial support scheme that together will facilitate private sector participation in village energisation through renewable energy mini-grids and establishment of energy centres in the country.