CDM Opportunities and Challenges in Zambia

Zambia Country Overview | UNDP's Capacity Development in Zambia

Zambia’s UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol Status
Zambia is a non-Annex I party to the UNFCCC, having ratified the Convention in May 1993. The Kyoto Protocol was ratified in October 2006.

The Kyoto Protocol offers opportunities for developing countries such as Zambia to access financial resources for implementing projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Institutional framework for CDM in Zambia - The office of the Designated National Authority (DNA) has been established by the Zambian Government. The DNA in Zambia has adopted an inter-ministerial model where relevant government ministries are integrated into the DNA as permanent members. The DNA facilitates the CDM process including the development of sustainable development criteria for evaluating CDM projects.

The Ministry of Tourism Environment and Natural Resources provides the secretariat to the DNA.  The DNA is served by an Ad Hoc Working Group, which evaluates PINs and PDDs for compliance with sustainable development criteria and makes recommendations to the DNA. 

Overview of CDM project opportunities in Zambia
Zambia undertook climate change studies in 1994 in which an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions was prepared, a mitigation assessment was drawn up and adaptation options were considered. The findings were incorporated into the Initial National Communication (INC), which has since been submitted to the UNFCCC.

Based on information provided by the greenhouse gas inventory in the Initial National Communication, the sectors with the potential for CDM projects (representing source categories) in Zambia are as follows: 


The principal source of energy in Zambia is wood fuel (i.e. firewood and charcoal), with the largest consumer group being households in both rural and urban areas.

Despite abundant hydro-power generation, only 20% of the population has access to electricity, mainly due to high installation costs and the location of most areas far from the national grid system.

Petroleum ranks second in terms of national energy requirements (12%). The largest consumer is the transport sector, followed by mining.

Coal accounts for 5% of national energy requirements: the largest consumer is the mining industry, followed by the manufacturing sector.

The greenhouse gas emissions for the energy sector are associated with liquid fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene, heavy fuel oil and aviation fuel as well as solid fuels such as firewood, charcoal and coal. An additional source of emissions is diesel-generating power plants serving isolated areas of the country.

The opportunities for CDM projects in this sector are twofold: 

On the supply side: Switching to cleaner and renewable energy sources such as wind power and run-of-river hydro-power presents an opportunity for CDM projects.  Zambia’s tropical/subtropical location gives it moderate to gusting winds, which tend to support generation of wind energy.

Replacement of diesel generator power supply with mini-hydro where there is potential offers further opportunities for developing CDM projects, particularly in an off-grid context. This opportunity has been enhanced by the Government’s introduction of an energy policy that promotes the use of renewable energy resources through private sector participation.

Minimizing energy losses during distribution offers another CDM project opportunity.

Just as there are opportunities, there also a number of challenges associated with implementing CDM projects in the energy sector.

The use of clean and renewable sources of energy such as wind power has not been fully investigated (studies have not proved feasible) in Zambia while the use of solar power has its own technical and maintenance complications relating to PV solar panels.

The bulk of electricity generation in Zambia is from hydro-generation, which has very low greenhouse emissions. This limits the development of CDM projects for on-grid applications in this sector.


The manufacturing sector comprises food, beverages and tobacco processing, textiles and leather production, wood and wood products, cement, fertilizer and lime production, plastics and paper production, non metallic and base metal production, road paving, etc.

Manufacturing processes consume a significant amount of energy (in the form of electricity and petroleum products) for driving motors, providing light and powering air conditioning. Some manufacturing industries use fossil fuels and coal in their boilers for steam production.

The opportunities for CDM projects in this sector arise mainly from avoiding emissions by way of energy conservation and substitution. These include implementing fuel-switch measures, such as replacing the use of coal or diesel in boilers with biomass residues for energy generation or cogeneration; lining steel pipes with rubber and sealing of leakages to reduce steam losses, and installing pre-heat exchange units. In the case of cement production, a CDM opportunity lies in changing from wet to dry processes and changing clinker additives.


The major activities of this sector are copper and cobalt mining. Coal and gemstone are also mined although they have yet to realize their full potential.

The mining industry is a major consumer of energy and coal, thereby significantly contributing to carbon dioxide emissions. Mining is also associated with methane emissions through underground venting.

As in the case of manufacturing, opportunities for CDM projects in the mining sector can be found in employing energy efficiency measures and fuel switching, and use of energy from renewable sources.

Examples of energy efficiency and fuel substitution measures include replacing smelting technology which has high energy intensity per tonne of copper/copper concentrates with that which has a lower energy intensity – e.g. replacing reverberatory smelters with flash-smelting furnaces, and the use of ceramic concentrate filters for drying slurry instead of a coal dryer.

Fuel switching: Use of electricity instead of diesel in load-haul-dump machinery;   installation of conveyor belts for transporting ore instead of using trucks; using electric loaders; use of electric acid plant heaters instead of kerosene, etc.

There is also an opportunity for CDM coal mine methane capture projects.


In Zambia, the main agricultural activities consist of food and livestock production. In food production, maize, which is the staple food crop, dominates but other crops such as rice, millet, sorghum, soya beans, groundnuts, cassava and groundnuts are also widely grown. In terms of livestock production, the main types are cattle (both beef and dairy), goats, sheep and poultry, with cattle assuming the dominant position.

The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the agricultural sector are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which are produced from burning of savannas, field burning of agricultural residues, rice cultivation, animal waste, enteric fermentation and the use of fertilizers on agricultural soils.

Opportunities for CDM projects in the agricultural sector include the use of agricultural residues for energy generation or cogeneration, biogas generation from animal waste, and land-use mitigation through reduced fertilizer use or zero tillage.

Waste management

The sources of waste in Zambia are domestic and commercial/industrial solid waste, waste water and sludge. Commercial and industrial waste water include liquid waste from manufacturing factories, establishments such as hotels and restaurants, and residential premises.

The growth of the Zambian urban population and the growth in economic activity in most sectors have resulted in an accumulation of domestic and commercial solid waste as well as commercial and industrial waste in urban areas.

Anaerobic decomposition of organic waste at disposal sites is a major source of methane. Establishing engineered landfills where methane emissions could be captured either for energy production for domestic or industrial use, or simply flared, present opportunities for establishing CDM projects.

Other opportunities in waste management include avoiding methane from organic wastewater and solids by composting; treating commercial and industrial wastewater to reduce methane production; recovering methane from commercial and industrial waste; and replacing anaerobic commercial and industrial waste lagoons.


Possible CDM opportunities include: establishing an efficient public transport system (e.g. a rapid bus transport project); the introduction of low-emission vehicles, particularly in a commercial context; switching to fuels with lower emission factors, possibly including biofuels.

Challenges facing CDM project development in this sector relate mainly to financing. The establishment of a rapid bus transport project would need to be supported by a long-term transport master plan, which in turn requires substantial funding arrangements. Currently, discussions are underway for the formulation of a master plan for the city of Lusaka.