By Chisakula Kaputu
There once was solar water heaters/geysers (SWH) initiative by the then President Banda which by the way was a great initiative that could have introduced a green technology, reduced strain on the power grid as well as created green jobs and catalyzed the spring-up of an energy services industry all together. But it would appear that those charged with ensuring the success and sustainability of this SWH Presidential initiative failed the establishment.
These initiatives that are introduced every so often with the endorsement of the Executive need to be supported by all and not get ‘sabotaged’ through neglect and lack of commitment of those charged with the responsibility.
Now we have the Presidential Milling Initiative launched by H.E. President Lungu with similar mandate to the SWH Presidential initiative of yesteryear. This initiative is one of the best initiatives that addresses all the sustainability elements of job creation, social upliftment, food security, revenue creation, environmental protection, use of alternative energy sources, etcetera.
It is a show of commitment by the highest political office to promoting sustainability and sustainable development in the country.
This is a legacy project for the current government and should be preserved and demonstrated to be value adding.
My questions and areas of concern as observed are:
-who is responsible for the running of this initiative? Is it Zambia cooperative federation? Any community involvement??
-how many such hammer mills have been installed in the country so far and how many more have been planned to be installed?
– what has been the measured performance of the installed hammer mills so far? Has the Presidency been availed with a monitoring and Evaluation report yet?
– can we quantify in monetary terms the accrued benefits? Are we winning? What is the cost of running these hammer mills vs. revenue streams. Are the people and the community benefiting from this initiative and if so in what ways?
– Need to benchmark these facilities against one another and reference international best performance metrics- Evaluate size of facility and sufficiency
– Compare cost of production using various energy sources (Solar PV vs. Diesel generator vs. Utility power)
– how do we ensure the safe and proper usage of these installations? (conditional assessment of the current stock)
– what is the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)? Availability, uptime/running time. Production throughput. Measured downtime and loss of production and earning
– what is our metric for measure of project success? How will we measure when these units payback? Are we ring-fencing revenues to circle back into maintenance and additional installations?
-the system as it stands is not being fully utilized due to downtime when not sunny ( insufficient solar radiation results in hammer mills turning off as there is no energy storage). For operational continuity, we need to redesign the installations to hybrid systems with an additional energy source such as diesel.
-promoting an alternative energy technology and solution should follow that the first installations/ demonstrated usages are not perceived to have failed; every time the hammer mills go off in the mid of a milling due to cloud cover and deprives a family of a meal could cause solar technology to be disliked unintentionally and the country is trying to promote solar extensively so this could be self defeating
– Presidential Milling Initiative to be supported by Corporate social Initiatives
The author of this article, Chisakula Kaputu is an Energy Expert and
Sustainability Practioner of over 20 years experience. He may be contacted
by email at [email protected] website: www.see.co.zm