Big Data Workshop at UC Berkeley
8. May 2018
ASEW Forum
17. May 2018
Big Data Workshop at UC Berkeley
8. May 2018
ASEW Forum
17. May 2018

Off-Grid Site Characterization and Prioritization in Zambia

The objective of this project is to categorize and prioritize locations for off-grid rural electrification in Zambia. It builds upon a previous project in which we analyzed and evaluated off-grid regions in Tanzania.

In Zambia, the overall national electricity access rate is 31 percent. In urban and peri-urban areas, approximately 47 percent of the population have access to electricity, while in rural areas, this numbers shrinks to only four percent. For many of these rural sites, the most appropriate option for a quick supply with electric power is off-grid electrification, primarily using mini-grid technologies. This means that villages and settlements will not be connected to the existing national grid, but instead receive their own power generation unit that is able to supply the surrounding households and buildings with electricity. This stand-alone power generation is mostly based on renewable energy.

In order to improve access to electricity in Zambian rural regions, the settlements without access need to be identified and prioritized. To select the best locations for off-grid electrification, a detailed understanding of the current situation and socio-economic structures and demands of rural areas is necessary. Key for this is a thorough analysis of the local status quo.

We will therefore develop new open data sets, analyze them, and rank villages according to their priority for off-grid electrification with special regard to commercial viability. With our partners, the consultancy company Integration and the Humanitarian Open Street Map team (HOT) we will combine local data collection with remote mapping and study economic viability of off-grid solutions. As a final step, we will develop an interactive webtool that shows details on village cluster locations, the number of people and households for each cluster as well as socio-economic data. Interactive functions will allow the prioritization and filtering of data.

Project duration: May 2018 – April 2019

© Header picture: fiverlocker from Brighton, UK, Zambia to Liwonde - Chinguni Hills - 020 (3884103698), cropped by RLI, CC BY-SA 2.0

RLI assumes the following tasks in this project:

  • Technical project management lead
  • GIS-based site identification
  • Demand and mini-grid modelling
  • Technology selection and sizing
  • Webtool development


Catherina Cader

Head of Unit

Setu Pelz

PhD candidate
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