The investor Prospero, funded by the United Kingdom, has partnered with Kalahari GeoEnergy to implement a project to develop direct applications of geothermal heat in Zambia. The first project of this partnership is the development of aquaculture farms, by setting up a geothermally heated aquaculture complex.
The two partners are focusing on aquaculture first, with the goal of helping to reduce fish imports into Zambia. “The use of geothermal energy for agricultural applications has the potential to contribute to job creation, improve access to energy and diversify economic activities in rural areas,” the members of Prospero said.
Succesful feasibility study
Its partner, Kalahari GeoEnergy, plans to use some of the heat from the Bweengwa site to generate electricity through a pilot project that will see the installation of a 15 MWe steam plant. The heat will ensure adequate temperatures in the fish farms thus boost production.
The project recently underwent a pre-feasibility study that concluded that geothermal heat could be used for not only fish and fingerling production, aquaponics (a system that combines plant cultivation and fish farming) but also crop drying and processing, and chicken production.
Fish imported from China and India
According to the 2017 Zambia’s Department of Fisheries report, in 2016, fish imports into the african country were estimated at 126,345 metric tons, compared to 77,199 metric tons recorded in 2015. This fish was mainly imported from China and India.
Yet, according to Prospero, aquaculture is designated as a priority sector for investment to meet the domestic consumption deficit and also to take advantage of export opportunities to other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Africa’s population is expected to balloon from 1 billion in 2021 to 2 billion by 2050. As a result, the demand for fish will exceed the current 10 million metric tons (MT) and by 2050 could reach between 16 to 29 million MT per year.
Zambia has become a significant regional producer
From being a country that had failed to tap into its vast water resources to venture into the lucrative aquaculture sector for many decades despite huge local demand, Zambia has become a significant regional player in the sector in southern Africa region, joining the Continent’s leading producers, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.
To date Zambia is the biggest producer of tilapia in the South African Development Community (SADC), and some of the largest freshwater commercial farms in Africa operate in Zambia, according to Food Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Aimed at boosting growth in the aquaculture sector, Lake Harvest Group, one of the largest integrated aquaculture companies in the country, recently bagged a US$7m investment to grow its operations from Aqua-Spark and Norfund.
UK aid funded Private Enterprise Programme
Is important to say that Prospero is a UK aid funded private sector development organization that supports business investment and innovation. They work through joint ventures with public and private Zambian entities, providing a combination of technical assistance, grant support, and linkages to access private impact investment finance.
Prospero is an independent not-for-profit organization implementing the second phase of the UK aid funded Private Enterprise Programme Zambia (PEPZ II). The programme is designed to incentivize investment in innovation that will change the way that market systems work and create new growth opportunities for MSMEs.
PEPZ is focused on the high-growth potential sectors as food and agriculture; to increase the competitiveness and value of Zambian food products in end consumer markets; manufacturing and mining services; tourism and biotrade; investment services, to increase MSME access to appropriate financial services by strengthening the Zambian finance and investment ecosystem; and business Sservices, to increase MSME access to appropriate non-financial business services to stimulate innovation, market access and growth.