Empowering the Unlit Corners: Unveiling the Energy Challenge in Rural Angola (PART 2)

13 de February de 2024

Figure 1: Governance team with local state actors visiting a solar field.

In pursuing integrated programming and delivery aligned with the portfolio approach's principles, the arrival of TRAC 2 funds served as a catalyst for putting systemic learnings into action. While the proposal marked a commendable collective effort by various units, it also brought forth challenges in terms of tracking, coordination, and flexibility in project management.

Not only was the design of the proposal a true collective intelligence effort, based on insights generated from a holistic understanding of all CO projects and opportunities, but it was ultimately a real exercise of collaborative implementation.

The collaborative implementation, although breaking silos, presented difficulties in tracking and coordination. The system does not seem to be prepared for this type of implementation, also the absence of a dedicated project coordinator and the dynamic nature of activities within the project made monitoring and evaluation, project management, and financial management a complex endeavor.

Despite the challenges, the TRAC 2 funds brought together a multi-sectorial portfolio team, with members from diverse units such as the Accelerator Lab, Inclusive Growth, Governance, and Environment (GEF). This multi-sectorial team, with varied responsibilities, exemplified the holistic and complementary nature of the initiative.


Resources from TRAC 2, have enabled the CO to enhance capacities of key national partners contributing to closing the energy access gap and a transition to a low-carbon energy future, adding to the National Development Plan targets of energy access to 50% by 2022. The program supported the Electrification of Off-grid communities with renewable energy sources to enable sustainable livelihood and economic growth, also strengthening female led, small scale business opportunities. 

Given the rich landscape of initiatives on energy both nationally and regionally, a key step in accelerating the development was to conduct a strategic assessment of both high-impact entry points for UNDP and important partners at the country-level. This included the development of an analytical roadmap and sensemaking and systems thinking exercises with key stakeholders that you can learn more about here in a previous blog.

Strengthening the capacity of local actors

The Government of Angola has transferred competences from National (Ministries) to Sub- national Governments (Provincial and Municipal), and water and energy are one of the decentralized services. Although the transfer of competences is a remarkable achievement at this stage, however, local entities still need necessary capacity development and skills transfer to effectively exercise their duties to ensure full operationalization of the decentralization process of such services from public and/or public-private entities. 

The utilization of TRAC 2 resources enabled the enhancement of key national partners' capacities, contributing significantly to closing the energy access gap and facilitating a transition to a low-carbon energy future. The program prioritized strengthening local state authorities' capacity in energy installation, distribution licensing, supervision, and inspection, and energy infrastructure management.

Figure 2: Governance team with local state actors visiting Caraculo solar project.

Training initiatives focused on three Municipal Administrations—Cubal in Benguela, Gambos, and Humpata in Huíla—addressing gaps in knowledge and skills in the energy sector.

Recognizing the importance of collaboration, the UNDP partnered with IRSEA, the regulatory entity for energy services, to design the training program and provide institutional support to local state bodies. The goal was to empower local governments to contribute to clean and affordable energy access for their residents, particularly the most vulnerable populations.

Similarly, attention was given to support public and private vocational training entities with skills development and transfer for the local youth who will play a critical role in installation and maintenance to the end users. In Huíla both INEFOP and Salesianos de Dom Bosco benefited from the installation of solar energy systems to power their technical, vocational, and professional training centers.

Figure 3: Solar systems installed at technical professional training centers.

Renewable energy for transformation

The program extended its impact to communities far from the national electricity grid, implementing scalable, low-cost, and reliable renewable energy technologies. Targeting female-led cooperatives, small businesses, and small-holder farmers, the initiative aimed to enhance production systems, fostering economic growth, and contributing to various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Target communities that benefited from renewable energy are far from any national electricity supply (grid) and, thus, live mostly in the dark and were prioritized to benefit from integrated productive use opportunities and livelihood improvements and its dynamic effects on economic growth. 

Implementing renewable energy technologies, that are scalable, low-cost, and reliable in the face of extreme weather and limited capacity for technical maintenance was a point of concern to ensure long-term transformation.

It is well documented that the provision of affordable and clean energy is a catalyst for development in the broadest sense, touching on a sizable proportion of SDGs. The electricity provided has enabled lights to be on after dark, extending hours for educational, cultural, health and business activities. 

One of the specific goals was for female-led cooperatives, small businesses, and small-holder farmers (e.g. solar-powered irrigation systems, conservation facilities) to have their production systems enhanced, opening opportunities for value addition into their respective products and services with low-cost and reliable sources of power. 

A success story

In the heart of Cubal, a transformative activity in partnership with local partner ADRA is helping reshape the landscape and the lives of local communities. While there have been remarkable achievements, there are still challenges to overcome, primarily centered around the transformation facilities that are lagging schedule. However, with a collective commitment to progress, the vision is set, and by the second week of January 2024, the transformation centers are expected to be fully operational.

Figure 4: Integrated solar and irrigation system installed in Cubal. @ UNDP Angola

The construction of the photovoltaic station has been successfully completed, marking a significant milestone. With a capacity of 44.16 Kilowatts, the station now serves three cooperatives, enabling the irrigation of 14 hectares of land. This ensures a year-round supply of water, fostering sustainable agricultural practices.

One standout feature of the photovoltaic station is its circular water treatment system. This innovative approach allows excess water to return to the river, preventing wastage. This not only contributes to environmental conservation but also highlights a commitment to responsible resource management.

Already, the benefits of the system are evident, empowering cooperatives to diversify their agricultural products. This expansion has resulted in increased monthly sales, providing a substantial boost to the local economy. The project has garnered attention, positioning Cubal as the launch site for the 2024 Agricultural Campaign. The regional administration is keen on replicating this success in other areas as part of an anti-poverty initiative.

Figure 5: Integrated solar and irrigation system installed in Cubal.

The Provincial Government recognized the impact of the project, visited the photovoltaic station, and acknowledged its quality. In a generous gesture, the cooperatives were gifted three cultivator motorcycles, further enhancing their capabilities.

To capitalize on the project's success, UNDP has outlined a strategic plan, including documenting the entire project for replication, transferring knowledge and technology to the local community through ADRA, investing in the Product Transformation Center to transform it into an Agri-Hub in 2024, and expanding collaboration with the Provincial Government. To ensure the project's completeness and celebrate its success, a final field mission is scheduled for the beginning of 2024. 

Figure 6: Irrigation systems installed in Cubal

Amid challenges, the Cubal project stands as a beacon of sustainable development, showcasing the transformative power of renewable energy and community-driven initiatives. As the journey continues, the hope is that this success story will inspire similar projects across the globe, contributing to a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Figure 7: Corn fields and cultivated areas in Cubal.

UNDP's TRAC 2 project in Angola exemplifies the challenges and triumphs of integrated development initiatives. It is also an example of how additional core funding can be used for seed initiatives that can help COs position themselves in new areas, opening doors for scaling models and fostering new avenues for engagement with Government and unusual partners. As the project closes, new opportunities for scaling up emerge, and the CO will be on the lookout to strengthen its commitment to sustainable energy, local capacity building, and inclusive development to shape a brighter and more empowered future for communities in Angola