Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
THE Government has pledged to continuously strive to boost power generation and ensure that more rural communities are connected to electricity.
Under the National Energy Policy (NEP), the Government has undertaken to ensure that all people in the country have access to adequate, reliable, least cost and environmentally friendly and sustainable energy services.
Hence in March this year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the National Renewable Energy Policy, which outlines action plans for the development of renewable and clean energy solutions to lighting space heating and cooking.
In 2020 alone the Government, through the Treasury, made a fiscal allocation of $70 million to augment the rural electrification levy in support of the Rural Electrification Programme. On Thursday, Minister of Energy and Power Development, Zhemu Soda, officially commissioned the Donsa schools, clinic and business centre electrification project in Kwekwe District.
In his speech, he reiterated the Government’s commitment to ensuring that every Zimbabwean has access to energy by 2030.
“The Government has always recognised the importance of energy in general and electricity in particular as a vehicle for economic and social development of our country. Over the years, the Government has continuously strived to create an enabling environment for the development of the grid network in both rural and urban areas,” said Minister Soda.
He expressed satisfaction that despite the economic challenges faced by the country, the fund has continued to register meaningful progress in the electrification of rural areas of Zimbabwe. As at 30 September, the fund had electrified 9 507 rural institutions countrywide using both grid and solar technologies. In Midlands Province alone, Rural Electrification Agency (REF) has electrified 1004 institutions, which include secondary and primary schools, chiefs’ homesteads, Government extension offices, business centers, small scale farmers and rural health facilities among others.
Minister Soda, however, bemoaned vandalism and rampant cases of thefts of infrastructure.
“It is, however, disturbing to note the rampant increase in cases of theft and vandalism on the electricity grid infrastructure, in particular conductors and transformers. I would like to urge the community to ensure that the grid infrastructure is not vandalized,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, REA board member, Engineer Flora Chikonye said the Donsa rural electrification programme was funded to the tune of $290 000 and was connected to three schools and a business center.
“The grid can also accommodate about 1000 households as the Agency moves to make sure that rural communities get electricity as household level,” she said.
Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Senator Larry Mavima said electricity was an enabler for economic and social development.
“Once energy is provided it can be used in schools, rural health centers and individual homes for the up-liftment of lifestyles and improvement of health and education for rural Zimbabweans. Irrigation, agro-processing and cottage industry projects can also be successfully implemented for the benefit of rural communities and the country at large,” said Minster Mavima.
With the Covid-19 taking its toll on economic and other social activities, power is regarded as key in the country as most businesses and learning have gone virtual.