POWER TO THE PEOPLE…Bemba solar project energises rural Zimbabwe Minister of Energy and Power Development Edgar Moyo (4th from left) cuts the ribbon during the official commissioning of a 60kW Bembe Solar Project in Bembe Village, Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North yesterday

Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Tsholotsho

BEMBA erupted in a chorus of gratitude yesterday as the 60kW solar project was officially commissioned, finally connecting the village to the wider world.

Villagers expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the Government, their voices brimming with emotion.
Energy and Power Development Minister, Edgar Moyo, presided over the ceremony that was also graced by the Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Richard Moyo, Tsholotsho South MP, Musa Ncube, who is also the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Deputy Minister, district and provincial Government officials, board members, management and staff of the Rural Electrification Fund (REF), Zesa — and members of the Joint Operations Command and traditional leaders.

REF Board member Eng Ndomupei Chikonye

As Minister Moyo snipped the ceremonial ribbon, declaring the project officially operational, a wave of excitement washed over the crowd. Villagers enthusiastically echoed their belief that the Second Republic was demonstrably fulfilling its promise of inclusive development — “leaving no one and no place behind”.

Some of the homestead electrified by Bemba Solar Plant

Gladys Jubane, her voice thick with emotion, spoke for the entire community. She said a new order has arrived thanks to the project that first surfaced in 2017.

“We are over the moon with what has just happened. Asilamlomo ezinkulungwane ukuthi sibonge. There is no more difference between us and those who live in towns and cities,” she said. Nkazimulo Sibanda echoed the jubilation, expressing his belief that the area was poised for a multifaceted development boom.

Bemba Solar Plant

Access to healthcare, for instance, would be transformed. The local clinic, now equipped with reliable electricity, will be able to expand its services to 24-hour operation. This, along with the positive impact on Bemba Primary School and the business centre, painted a bright picture for the future of Bemba.

“Perishable food will no longer be an issue and in terms of current affairs, Bemba will be up to date. For this milestone development we are very grateful as Tsholotsho people in general and Bemba villages in particular,” said Sibanda.

Dep Minister Musa Ncube

Jabulani Msebele, a villager from the nearby Manandweni line, beamed with pride. His grandchildren attended Bemba Primary School, and now it would be bathed in light. While his village awaited electricity, Msebele remained hopeful that power lines would soon stretch their reach, bringing the same transformative power to Manandweni.

Minister of Energy and Power Development Edgar Moyo switches on a lamp during the official commissioning of 60kw Bembe Solar Project at Bembe village in Tsholotsho District, Matebeleland North yesterday.Looking on are Rural Electrification Fund (REF) Board member Eng Ndomupei Chikonye (left), Mat North Province Rural Electrification Fund manager Eng Vincent Sande (center) and Matebeleland North Province Minister of State Richard (partly obscured)

In his keynote address, Minister Moyo highlighted the significance of the project’s completion. He said it marked a significant milestone in the Government’s roadmap to achieving universal access to modern energy services for all Zimbabwean rural communities by 2030.

“Through the implementation of community solar projects such as this one we are commissioning today in Bemba, remote rural areas which are far from the national electricity grid can now have access to power which is just as good as the conventional power from the national grid,” said Minister Moyo.

Minister Moyo highlighted the Government’s unwavering commitment since independence to improving the lives of both rural and urban citizens through infrastructure development. He expressed particular encouragement at the progress to date, noting that over 10 400 public institutions had been electrified.

Minister of Energy and Power Development Edgar Moyo

“Under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), my ministry, through the Rural Electrification Fund, plans to extensively increase the rural grid network thereby providing access to modern forms of energy to over 3 000 rural community groups and public institutions countrywide using both the electricity grid and modern energy technologies,” said Minister Moyo.

Rural Electrification Fund (REF) Acting Chief Executive Officer Mrs Felisters Makumbinde (left) reads a plaque which was unveiled by the Minister of Energy and Power Development Edgar Moyo (center) during the official commissioning of the 60kw Bemba Solar Project at village in Tsholotsho District Matebeleland North yesterday. On the right is the Matebeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo

Before the ceremony, Engineer Vincent Sande, the REF provincial manager for Matabeleland North, briefed Minister Moyo and other dignitaries on the project’s progress. He reported that up to last month, five out of the seven Tsholotsho district chiefs had already benefited from electrification initiatives.

Chief Magama, Chief Tategulu, Chief Gampu, Chief Mathuphula and Chief Siphoso’s homesteads now enjoy the dual benefits of connection to the national grid and a solar system.

Eng Sande acknowledged that the remaining two chiefs, Chiefs Goredema and Chief Mahlathini, who were recently installed, had yet to be connected. However, he assured those present that their homesteads were included in their plans.

He told Minister Moyo and other dignitaries that the Bemba solar project, built for US$357 550, took just 91 days to set up.

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