Zambia: Household Energy Demand Supply

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A Household Energy Demand and Use
B Household Energy Supply
C Household Energy Sector Governace
D Household Energy Information

B. Household energy supply

B.1 introduction

Fuels used for cooking in households in Zambia are firewood, charcoal, kerosene, electricity, cow dung, and crop residues. While charcoal is the main fuel for cooking in urban areas (80%), fuelwood is predominantly used in rural areas; urban areas 25%, rural areas 90% (Living Conditions in Zambia-1998). Kerosene is used by nearly all non-electrified households for lighting. Grid electricity is still not available to 80% of households in Zambia, and in some areas wood fuel resources are limited. Where wood fuel is available at no cost to the consumer, it tends to be the cooking fuel of choice. LPG and coal are not used to any extent due to cost and lack of availability.

B.2 wood

Costs-in urban areas wood is sold. There are health hazards associated with the use of wood for cooking due to poor combustion resulting to excessive smoke emission to the surroundings.

Wood is used by more than 90 percent of the Zambian population (estimated at nearly 1.8m), amounting to around 4.0 MTOE (1999), mainly in rural households particularly to meet thermal energy needs for cooking, space heating, micro enterprise process heat provision and water heating throughout the year (2000 census preliminary report). While it is generally assumed that most wood is collected at no cost, there are some areas where wood has to be paid for due to scarcity, and there is also an opportunity cost due to the time required in fuelwood collection.

Most wood is burnt on open fires, with low efficiencies, although in order to improve efficiency and save fuel, some households are adopting improved wood stoves with efficiencies reaching 30%. Improved stoves (ceramic and metal ceramic) can be bought from the market at 5 Euro or can be self built (mud stoves).

B.3 Crop residues / dung

Crop residues/dung are mainly used in rural areas where wood is scarce. In households with cattle, people make cow dung cakes and leave them to dry, or they collect dry cow dung from the cattle grassing fields. During dry season, when there is not enough grass for grazing, cow dung becomes scarce. Cow dung is mainly used in the Western and Southern provinces of Zambia. Crop residues are mainly available during the harvesting season and this varies from place to place.

Cow dung/crop residues are wood substitutes used by an estimated 21, 000 households for cooking, water heating and space heating. Households that rely on crop residues and dung for fuel often use three stone fireplace stoves. Dung is not commercialised.

It is estimated that 400,000 toe/annum of residues are produced, based on the number of cattle in areas where dung is used and crop production for the year 2000 (Central Statistic Office Agriculture and Pastoral Production 1999/2000).

B.4 charcoal

Charcoal is a very important household energy resource in urban areas of Zambia. The charcoal is produced in rural areas from trees harvested from natural forests. It is found in almost all urban areas of Zambia where transporters from rural areas supply using trucks carrying about 150 bags each weighing about 40kg. The supply of charcoal to urban areas is very reliable, only decreasing during the rainy season. In urban areas more than 80% of the population uses charcoal for cooking, water heating and space heating. Nearly half a million households use a total of 628,000toe annually in the household sector. The cost of charcoal is around 90-100 ?/toe

Traditionally charcoal is burnt in metal charcoal stoves with low efficiencies of below 15 percent. A growing small percentage of households have adopted improved charcoal stoves with higher efficiencies of more than 30 percent, such as the Ziko stove, promoted by CARE International. The lifetime of traditional metal stoves is about six months while that of improved stoves is about 18 months. The prices also vary, metal traditional stoves costs about 3 Euro, whereas improved stoves prices averages about 5 Euro.

Charcoal is produced from wood cut from natural forest by rural charcoal producers who use traditional earth mound kilns. It is then packed into 40kg bags and transported to urban areas where it is either sold wholesale in bags or in small quantities of one kg by charcoal vendors or households. (The Lusaka Charcoal Supply Stabilisation Project Disaster)

B.5 coal

The proportion of low-income households using coal for cooking is very small. Although Zambia mines coal in the southern part of the country, coal is not available for household cooking due to high delivery costs, which make coal more expensive than firewood and charcoal. The economic and financial costs of supplying coal briquettes on a commercial bases and consumer acceptance are not clear. A recent coal briquetting pilot project has not come up with tangible outputs to commercialise the production of coal briquettes. Appliances that use coal, such as stoves and water heaters, are not readily available on the Zambian market and the government has not attempted to promote coal as a domestic fuel.

B.6 kerosene

Kerosene is widely accessible, in many areas of Zambia, where it is estimated that around 1.3m households use it. Affordability of kerosene and its appliances are the major constraints, particularly in rural areas, where it cannot compete effectively with freely available energy sources such as wood, crop residues and cow dung. Space heating with kerosene is a very expensive means of heating in both economic and foreign exchange terms. This is exacerbated by the increasing price of kerosene due to the devaluation of the local currency (Kwacha).

Cooking with kerosene is the most expensive common means of cooking in both economic and foreign exchange terms. The stoves are relatively cheap, with an efficiency of around 45%. The disadvantages include the smell from kerosene, which sometimes taints the foods and the smoke it produces. There is research which indicates that approximately 4% of the fuel is not burned, and enters the atmosphere as very fine particles with a high concentration of hydrocarbons. Large concentrations of CO are also observed. Another disadvantage of using these cheap kerosene stoves is that they are not durable, and have been blamed for a number of fire accidents and burns.

The most common device for lighting in most low-income households is the kerosene lamp locally known as koloboi. This is simple in design because one only needs a bottle with a lid and a hole is made in the lid to accommodate the wick. The wick can be anything from a thread to a piece of cloth. It is highly polluting.

Despite these problems, about 17200 toe of kerosene was used to meet household energy needs in 1999.Kerosene is normally distributed through the major oil marketing companies, and is transported using road tankers to service stations, where it is sold.

B.7 lpg

LPG is produced locally at INDENI (crude is imported) and also imported from South Africa and like any other petroleum fuel it is expensive for the low-income households (around 850?/toe). Appliances, accessories and fuel are expensive and difficult to access and most poor people are unaware of the possibility of using LPG for cooking. There is a perception, among those who do not use LPG, that it is dangerous - mainly due to lack of information on the safe usage of LPG. As a result, LPG is not generally used by low-income households and its use is restricted to industry and the catering trade. Although it is perceived that LPG could be an important household energy source, current limited availability and poor distribution infrastructure limits its use. In the few households where it is used (estimated at less than 500), it is preferred for cooking only, using single burner, high pressure gas cookers.

B.8 electricity

Electricity is used by 20% of the urban population and 8% of the rural population. A majority of low-income households do not have access to the grid, or are not connected due to the high cost of appliances and/or connection fee. Further, low-income households are finding it increasingly difficult to pay electricity bills as the tariff is increasing. Only about 2% of low-income families use grid electricity for lighting, whilst torch batteries are used by most non-electrified homes to provide occasional illumination. Grid electricity is not used extensively for cooling fans and refrigerators are too expensive for those on low incomes. However, electricity, either grid or batteries, is used extensively for communications - telephone, radio, TV. The main constraints to electricity use are cost and inconvenience - especially where batteries have to be recharged. Solar Home Systems require too high an initial investment for most poor people.

B.9 Summary and conclusions

Energy supply differs markedly between rural and urban areas.

The constraints on rural use are due to poverty and poor access to low-cost electrification services. Low income households use wood for the majority of their needs, including cooking, space heating, water heating and, for those on very low incomes, for lighting too. Kerosene is also used, but it is more expensive and therefore only used for lighting for those on low incomes. Electricity is only available to those with higher incomes and is mainly decentralised, low voltage and thus used for lighting and communications.

In urban areas, poverty and lack of access to biomass dictate the use of fuels. The main fuels for cooking, space heating and water heating are charcoal and kerosene, as biomass and coal are largely unavailable or too expensive and electricity is only used by those on higher incomes. Those with access to electricity mainly use it for lighting, communications and ironing.

There is recognition that LPG is a valuable household energy resource which has so far not been exploited in Zambia. Though coal is mined in Zambia, it does not have an important role to play in household energy provision.

Last edited by Miriam Hansen .
Page last modified on Sunday September 19, 2010 18:50:20 GMT.
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