SR article

Project Plan


Most rural villages in Zambia have little or no access to electricity. A consortium of the Zambian ICT company (Necor) and Italian solar panel company (FuturaSun) came up with a solution for this. The consortium is going to implement a solar powered mini-grid with pay-as-you-go technology in Zambia. In the rest of this project plan we will refer to this project as the general project. This project plan describes the project that team YTY (Yasemin, Tess & Yavuz) will carry out for the TU Delft minor ‘International Entrepreneurship & Development’.

Mission of the project

The mission of the project is to create an environment in a rural Zambian village, such that the solar mini-grid can be successfully implemented and is economically viable on the long term and thus will improve the prosperity and the livelihoods of the users.


To accomplish our goal we will answer the following questions:

  1. Which technical appliances (i.e. pumps, egg incubators, milk chillers) can be used together with the mini-grid to improve the livelihoods and economic activity of the users?
  2. What are the conditions to successfully and economically viably implement these technical appliances?

What we will do to answer question 1:

  • Our main focus is to get the locals acquainted with electricity of the solar mini-grid. This means we will not install, repair or maintain the solar mini-grid. We will also not look for technical improvements of the mini-grid or other sustainable energy resources.
  • The goal is to help one business sector in the community and one governmental organisation. For example the farmers by purchasing an irrigation pump for the community and a school by expanding their computer capacity.
  • We will visit the chosen village three times:
    • The first time we will invest in the relation with the villagers, investigate the needs they are willing to pay for and talk to the community leaders. This visit will take place on a two day basis.
    • The second time we will conduct interviews with individual entrepreneurs from the business sector and employees from the governmental institution. For this visit we will schedule three days.
    • During the third visit we will propose technical appliances to one chosen business sector and one governmental institution. We will also make payback time calculations for the above mentioned sector and research investment possibilities and benefits for institution. For this visit we will also schedule three days.

What we will do to answer question 2:

  • We will create a list of the conditions to successfully and economically viably implement these technical solutions. We will start this list based on desk research on reference projects and complete it during the internship. You can find our desk research topics in attachment A. 
  • We will make a video of the circumstances in the village before the solar mini-grid is installed. This video will show the conditions necessary to install the solar mini-grid and a general overview of the village before instalment of the solar mini-grid. This can be found in 'Video'.

Analysis of the problem


Most of the rural villages in Zambia don’t have access to the main electricity grid. Although there is electricity in the villages, the electricity comes from portable electricity devices and (diesel)generators.


Implement a solar mini-grid in a Zambian village, so that the villagers have a constant and better electricity connection. At the same time, the mini-grid will be maintained and repaired, and technical support will be given to the villagers by local partners.

We will deliver technical solutions and products, which can be used with the solar mini-grid. Besides we will explain the appliances to the local community.

The solar mini-grid will create a possibility for all the villagers to have a reliable access to electricity. This way the villagers will be able to use electricity to improve there (little) enterprises and business, and thus their wealth and livelihood. A possible solution of the solar mini grid implementation can be found in figure 1. 

solar mini grid.jpg

Figure 1: Possible solution

Project structure and activities

In this chapter all activities concerning the project will be discussed. You can find an elaboration on the activities and planning in this collection.

Desk research

The first activity of the project is to execute desk research, as can be seen in attachment A. This will start in the Netherlands, before going to the project site, but will continue on site in Zambia. Furthermore we will look into NGO’s active in Zambia with experience in training, capacity building and economic development of rural areas.

Visit villages

At the moment there is one potential village to implement the solar mini-grid, which is located in Chitambo District, Central Province.

We will visit the village to study the way of life, backed-up by interviews taken with the inhabitants. Furthermore we will inform the inhabitants about the use of the mini-grid.

Local support for the solar mini-grid is crucial for the project to succeed. When we are in the village, we will help the local project team to explain how the mini-grid works, to create social support.

We will visit the village three times, the specific actions to answer our main questions can be found in attachment B


The goal of the video is to create a closer image of the village and to see the circumstances before the mini-grid. The video will be made of interviews with local villagers and a general impression of the village. It will be a part of a before-after movie concept, in which the movie made by YTY will be the ‘before’ part. 
An extra purpose of the video is to have an overview of the accomplishments of the students. This can be shown to FuturaSun / Necor for the continuity of the project. The video will also be shown to the TU Delft as a deliverable of our internship, during presentations. The video will be shot during all the visits.

To make the video we need film equipment and editing skills. We will contact locals via Facebook to borrow film equipment. We will contact Willem the Kooning, which is a film academy in Rotterdam to edit the video. During the course Project, Research and Design we will also get an introduction to filming and editing, which will help us during our stay.


Below you can find the planning, a more detailed planning can be found in attachment C.

  • First & Second week: Go to Necor every weekday from 02/11 on
  • Third week: Visit village for the first time (beginning of the week)
  • Fifth week: Visit village second time
  • Eighth week:  Visit village third time
  • Ninth & Tenth week: Christmas / New Year’s Holidays - TU Delft
  • Eleventh week: Visit village fourth time (back-up)
  • Twelfth week: Finish report


Supplier (FuturaSun)

FuturaSun has been a distributor of PV panels since 2008, Futura has been producing highly-technological and high-performance modules. All their expertise comes from the region of Veneto, the heart of the Italian photovoltaic industry: here their designers devise all their products. But Futura’s calling is global: they make our products in Europe as well as in Asia and are constantly extending their sales and distribution network. Besides, their products are currently present in all five continents.

Installations, maintenance and reparations (Necor)

Necor is a Zambian ICT company, which will install, maintain and repair the solar mini-grid. They will conduct the research prior to the implementation of the solar mini-grid.


The users of the solar mini-grid will be the villagers of a rural village in Zambia.


Our project has some contingencies as mentioned below. In attachment D you can find how we will solve these contingencies.


  1. The village turns out not to meet the conditions of the general project.
  2. It is a possibility that our planning to visit the villages does not fit in with Necor.
  3. We will be in Zambia during the rainy season and that means that the possib
    ility for thunderstorms and floods are very high. So we should take into account that we cannot go to the villages at the date and time that we would like to. The village is located in the Central Province. The journey to the village will take at least five hours. Research has shown us that the roads are not that safe and we should not drive or travel in the dark.
  4. It can turn out that purchasing a product with the community is too complicated.
  5. There are some risks involved in making the video. First of all there is a risk of not finding video equipment. The second contingency is that the villagers won’t be willing to be in the videos 


  • The main deliverable is an internship report that focuses on the practical application of the research findings. This report can be used as reference for other projects, which includes the implementation of solar mini-grids in rural Zambian villages. So creating awareness and capacity building for solar mini-grids within Zambia is part of the main deliverable.
  • Knowledge exchange to local villagers will take place. The mini-grid, its applications and thus the advantages are not well known in rural Zambia. By knowledge transfer we will create an environment wherein every villager knows how to use the mini-grid.
  • We will present payback time calculations to the individual entrepreneurs chosen from the target sector. By presenting this, they can see how long it takes to earn their investment back. This way, we hope to create an environment, wherein the local entrepreneurs can invest more freely, so they continue using the electricity from the solar mini-grid.
  • For the chosen governmental institution we will make an investment plan.
  • The video as described in 'Video'.

Continuation of the project after January 2017

The general project has a short-term and a long-term goal in terms of a correct environment for the implementation of the mini-grid and continuation of the use of the mini-grid. The short-term and long-term goals can be divided in our project’s and the general project’s goals after January 2017. You can find the continuation of our project below, the general project continuation can be found in attachment E

Hence again there is a short term and long term difference between our project specific goals. The payback time calculations and improvements attained by the local villagers and entrepreneurs due to the use of the solar mini-grid can be evaluated on the short term. This can be done either by students, which might participate in next year's International Entrepreneurship and Development minor or by the involved companies. Herefor they can make a checklist, to see if the users have improved and whether the payback time calculations are implemented in such way that they are making more profit.

The video we will create will show the conditions in the village before the solar mini-grid is implemented. After the mini-grid is installed a before-after movie can be created and show the big differences created by the solar mini-grid. Therefore it can be used as a promotion video to spread the project to other villages.

To conclude this list, there will be a report made, which can be used by FuturaSun / Necor and students, to acknowledge what research is acquired and what kind of knowledge transfer has taken place with villagers and microfinance institutions. This can be used in further projects by both the companies as the students, but it can also give quick access to for example a list of microfinance institutions. So implementations in other rural areas will be made more easy with the report.

Team YTY will review its stay in Zambia for the project. We will communicate with the involved partners if any further involvement within the general project is needed from a mutual perspective. This may include being an ambassador for the general project, helping a next year’s TU Delft team of students or anything else that might be needed.