Renewable Energy Technology Transfer from China to Ghana and Zambia

Mar 17, 2019 | Solution

Challenge Ghana has increased its share of electricity delivered to households from less than 40 per cent in 2000 to 60 per cent in 2010. Today, more than 70 per cent of households nationwide have access to electricity. However, this national average belies a striking urban-rural disparity, as only 40 per cent of rural households have access to electricity. Similarly, in Zambia, most rural areas are not connected to the national grid and only 3 per cent of the rural population has electricity. Living in the dark after sunset poses unimaginable difficulties for people in the rural communities. Towards a Solution To help rural communities in Ghana and Zambia gain access to electricity, Denmark funded two projects on renewable energy technology transfer (RETT) with Ghana and Zambia, with a strong focus on enabling coherent South-South cooperation between China and African countries to promote the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative. The projects aim to adapt Chinese experience and technical skills to promote the production of renewable energy technologies in Africa. The projects have a holistic approach to operate both at: 1) the upstream level, supporting the creation of an enabling environment for technology transfer and invigorating the capacity for South-South Cooperation between China, Ghana and Zambia; and 2) the downstream level, in terms of actual transfer and demonstration of technologies with potential upscaling by the private sector. The Ghana/Zambia/China Renewable Energy Technology Transfer Project is a flagship project in piloting UNDP’s innovative approach to trilateral cooperation. By combining the recipient country’s needs and expertise with Chinese experience and technical know- how, the trilateral approach transfers knowledge and skills to promote mutual benefits for the countries involved. Through this approach, UNDP serves as a knowledge broker, a capacity builder and a facilitator to respond to the countries’needs and provide a platform for knowledge exchange events. Many relevant partners from China, Ghana, and Zambia, are collaborating on these projects, including Ghana’s Energy Commission, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and Zambia’s Department of Energy in Zambia, together with the UNDP Country Offices in Accra, Beijing and Lusaka. All partners have facilitated the exchange of expertise and technology among China, Ghana and Zambia. The following initiatives were taken via a participatory approach:
  • Workshops and matchmaking sessions were held in China, Ghana and Zambia to facilitate the exchange of best practice as well as to establish solid foundations for stakeholder alliances that include the private sector;
  • Several delegations from China visited Ghana and Zambia at the behest of MOST to engage in face-to-face meetings to coordinate the development of the demonstration projects;
  • The Energy Commission in Ghana and the Department of Energy in Zambia have dispatched several delegations to China to obtain know-how, facilitate demonstration projects and participate in match-making events; and
  • UNDP Country Offices in Accra, Beijing and Lusaka have served as bridges among all parties involved, coordinating with all relevant parties to facilitate and supervise the entire RET transfer process.
The projects have achieved the following outcomes:
  • The pre-feasibility study and selection of transferable renewable energy technology were completed with a database for RETT solutions being established;
  • The project website, an online matchmaking platform, has been launched in both Chinese and English. Updates will be made continuously;
  • The National Level Renewable Energy Master Plan for Ghana has been finalized and submitted for parliamentary approval;
  • Alliance technology companies and research institutes supporting RETT in Ghana, Zambia and other African partner countries were set up in China; and
  • Annual trainings on solar, hydro and biogas technologies and key processes of system design for stakeholders in China and Zambia have been held to remove knowledge barriers for RETT.
Trilateral cooperation, an integral part of South-South cooperation, is an emerging innovative modality that enables countries to share and exchange knowledge and experiences. Trilateral projects identify specific added value and comparative strengths among partner countries (China-Ghana-Zambia) and UNDP in a South-South cooperation format in which all partners contribute and benefit from the cooperation. To ensure the projects’ sustainability, national policy level safeguards are put in place. The Renewable Energy Master Plan was submitted to the Ghanaian Parliament. It identified and initiated the design. Furthermore, the projects have enabled a learning platform for China, Ghana and Zambia to engage and cooperate at the international level in renewable energy technology and skills transfer. Future engagements to accelerate sustainable development and demand- driven South-South cooperation in the energy sector are achievable through further discussion and cooperation between relevant stakeholders. Discussions are underway on replicating the projects in other countries, building on existing UNDP engagements. Countries and other stakeholders involved need strong coordination and willingness to cooperate and learn from each other’s experiences. Additionally, the trilateral cooperation model is itself replicable and the learnings from the project on creating enabling environments for renewable energy technology transfer are also replicable in many developing country settings, which could be based on the experience and know-how drawn from the China-Ghana-Zambia projects. Countries/Regions involved: China, Ghana, Zambia Supported by: Denmark Implementing entities: UNDP and respective governments Project status: Ongoing Project period: 2014 – Present URL of the practice:; Contact: Mr. Peter Morling, UNDP China Email: