Developing a smart village for Zambia

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:15:00 GMT

Dr Joseph Mutale and Dr Vidyadhar Peesapati, Director and Deputy Director for Social Responsibility in the University's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, made a week-long trip to Lusaka in Zambia at the end of November.

During their visit, which was financed by The University’s Global Challenges Research Fund, Dr Mutale and Dr Peesapati conducted a one-day workshop on ‘’Smart Villages’’ to discuss requirements for reliable, sustainable and cost-effective electricity to help empower the local community. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Energy for Zambia, four chiefs from different provinces, academics from both the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University and representatives from the Rural Electrical Authority and Zambian Electricity Board (ZESCO). Options discussed included a solar-power energy source to pump water from underground wells for irrigation, provide lighting in the evening and fans to counter the blistering heat during the day.

Dr Peesapati said: “With a large population who live within rural areas and only an estimated 3.7% of this area with access to electricity, it is critical that something is done to improve the energy infrastructure to help develop this region. For a nation rich in natural resources it is frustrating that local communities struggle to tap into the full potential of such resources due to the lack of electrical energy. Solar power and wind power can play a part in empowering local communities, providing them with something we take for granted daily - electricity.”

The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Manchester continues to work closely with the University of Zambia, and local communities in Zambia, to see how help in developing rural electrification can be provided. A system which is both sustainable and replicable is essential and the University’s technical know-how in designing self-sustainable villages should help make steps towards this becoming a reality in the future.