Zambia Electric Cooperative Development Program

Objective: Develop Viable Community-Owned Electric Cooperatives 

The Zambia Electric Cooperative Development Program (ZECDP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Cooperative Development Program and implemented by NRECA International. ZECDP, in collaboration with local stakeholders and partners, aims to develop viable electric cooperatives in rural communities, that will play an important role in the electrification expansion efforts in Zambia. 

Goals and Outcomes 

  • Increased access to renewable electric service in multiple rural communities. 
  • Establishment of cooperatives as viable providers of electricity services. 
  • Increased income-generating activities for cooperative members through productive use of electricity. 



In Zambia, only 31 percent of the population has access to electricity, with an electrification rate of approximately 4 percent in rural areas. To expand access, improve economic growth, health care services, and social advancement, the government aims to achieve universal access by 2030. 

Principal Activities 

  • Identify communities that are suitable candidates for development of electric cooperatives. 
  • Build technical capacity in communities through community engagement, develop business plans, and secure financing for infrastructure. 
  • Provide ongoing technical support to cooperatives from formation to operations phase. 
  • Be a mentor and provide operations training to cooperatives. 
  • Support improvements in the legal and regulatory framework. 
  • Collaborate with other cooperative development organizations on lessons learned and research activities. 


    • Cooperative Development Program
    • USAID/Zambia
  • Government of Zambia
    • Rural Electrification Authority
    • Ministry of Energy
    • Department of Cooperatives
  • Zambia Federation of Cooperatives 

The Cooperative Advantage

Rural electric cooperatives are owned by the communities they serve and operate under the universally accepted Seven Cooperative Principles. Cooperative incentives and measurements for success are not driven by profitability, but rather quality of service, reliability, and sustainability. Using this model in rural and hard-to-reach communities can be a strong advantage for achieving long-term reliable and affordable electricity. 

NRECA International has helped establish more than 250 electric utilities and cooperatives in 48 countries, empowering more than 220 million people worldwide. Our organization was founded in 1962 when the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the newly-established USAID signed an inaugural cooperative agreement to share lessons learned in the electrification of the rural United States with developing countries around the world. 

For More Information

Frank Bergh
ZECDP Program Coordinator