Zengamina Hydro Project

Aerial view of the operational Zengamina hydro project.

Summary

Project location within Africa.

Project location within Zambia.

The North West Zambia Development Trust has established a hydro-electric scheme in the Ikelenge area of north western Zambia. The project is now providing cheap, clean and sustainable power to the local area. It has essentially removed dependence on diesel generators and on fuel transported from the Republic of South Africa.

It supports Kalene Hospital, the local schools, clinics and orphanage. In addition, there are opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) development. Income from power will, in time, decrease dependency on expatriate income for the operation of Kalene Hospital and the other institutions at Kalene and the local area.

The project has created the basis of a self-sustaining, developing local economy.

Employment developing directly from the construction of this project, and indirectly due to development and expansion of SMEs, has already had an effect in decreasing poverty and dependency on charitable giving. This will increase the dignity of the local population and raise aspirations to become more self reliant.

Mini Hydro Scheme Rationale

Power provision is usually considered the remit of national power companies and government. Connection to the national grid in Zambia is not an option as it ends 380km from the Ikelenge area and ZESCO (the national power company) has no plans to extend the power line to the area. However, the North Western Province of Zambia has several large perennial rivers. Hydro-electric power is relatively cheap to produce, is ecologically friendly and is sustainable.  Consequently, a hydro-electric scheme is the only sustainable, economic way to provide power. While the prime driver for the Zengamina project was to provide power to Kalene Mission Hospital, the overall purpose of the project is the provision of power to the whole community.

Benefits of the Scheme

The hydro-electric scheme will produce a wide range of benefits that are immediate and long term.

Immediate benefits

  1. Removal of diesel generated power with its attendant high costs, unreliability and associated air and noise pollution.
  2. 24 hour power to the following establishments that currently use diesel generators:-
    • Kalene Mission Hospital
    • Ikelenge Mission
    • Flight Service
    • Sakeji School
    • Hillwood Farm
  3. Power delivery to over 1000 rural poor who have never had electricity:-
    • Nyakaseya Village and School
    • Kalene Schools
    • Ikelenge Schools
    • Chinyazhi School
    • Ikelenge town
    • All the villages and small businesses along the power line route
  4. Employment for local Zambians (both in construction and maintenance of the scheme).
  5. Marked increase in attractiveness of local professional jobs (especially in attracting qualified Zambian staff to Kalene Hospital and local schools).
  6. Improved living and working conditions for hospital staff and teachers, a direct result of 24 hour lighting and power for use of appliances.
  7. Introduction of better medical and support equipment because of continuous electricity supply. This will improve health care for the patients and enable treatment for conditions previously not treatable due to equipment and power restrictions.
  8. Power for computers and related equipment to enable updating of the hospital’s infrastructure and for six schools.

Long-term benefits

  1. Development of SMEs and increased employment in a region where unemployment is approximately 80%. For example, pineapple canning has been attempted in the area but the lack of power for the equipment rendered the project unsustainable. This project will supply cheap, sustainable power, enabling a viable pineapple canning enterprise to be reintroduced.
  2. Decreased economic dependence on expatriate income.
  3. Kalene Mission Hospital development.
  4. Power availability for drinking water and sanitation systems and, as a consequence:
    • Improved health of the local population.
    • Improved education opportunities for the local population due to better equipment and lighting for evening work.

Conclusion

This project aims to replace the current use of generators burning diesel to produce electricity; in so doing the project ensures the long term economic viability of Kalene Hospital to continue its work by reducing costs and dependence on expatriate funding. In addition, power will be supplied to the local school, clinics and Flight Service so improving the scope of their work in education, primary health care and mercy flight operations. Local businesses will have access to electricity, which they have never had before, so increasing the economic opportunities and employment prospects of the community. The combination of immediate and long-term benefits allows the whole area to grow and develop in an exponential manner.

As the Trust is registered in Zambia, the trustees are working in conjunction with two UK registered charities, namely Echoes of Service and Medical Missionary News, through whom donations can be channelled. In addition, there are two agencies of the mission in North America through whom donations can be made with tax exemption receipts.