Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Midlands inches closer to 2030 rural electrification target

by Staff Reporter
01 Feb 2023 at 07:44hrs | Views
The Midlands Province is inching closer to the 2030 target for all rural areas to have electricity as three-quarters of public schools, clinics, extension offices and other public institutions have been electrified by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

Out of a total of 742 primary schools, 362 have been electrified, while 232 out of 317 secondary schools in the province have been electrified. Out of 204 clinics in the province, 198 now have electricity.

Before independence, rural areas suffered neglect in energy provision as the successive colonial governments disregarded the fact that most people lived in rural areas.

The rural electrification programme was initiated in 2002 following the enactment of the Rural Electrification Fund Act (2002).

The major thrust of the Rural Electrification Fund is to ensure that there is equitable distribution of resources in the electrification of rural areas in Zimbabwe.

It is hoped that by electrifying the rural areas, development will be accelerated. Some of the projects that are anticipated to bring development in the rural areas include irrigation schemes and a number of them have been electrified across the province.

Some of the sectors that have been electrified under this programme include schools, health centres, business centres, government offices, villages, chiefs' homesteads, small-scale farms, and mines.

In an interview yesterday, REA Midlands province manager Engineer Silba Zimwara said the company has made great strides in providing power to rural communities.

"By the end of 2022, we had electrified 10 primary schools, three secondary schools, five clinics, three villages, 13 rural service centres and 11 other institutions," she said.

This year, Eng Zimwara said they are targeting to connect 55 institutions to the grid.

"Over three-quarters of rural public schools, clinics, extension offices and other public institutions in the Midlands province are now electrified through the Rural Electrification Agency. If all things are equal, we will be able to accomplish that," she said.

Overally, Eng Zimwara said REA has electrified 362 primary schools, 232 secondary schools and 198 clinics as of October 2022.

Eng Zimwara said about 66 percent of chiefs' homesteads have been electrified in the province.

"Chief Samambwa's homestead in Zhombe is set to be electrified this year as we continue with our goal to provide power at every chief's homestead," she said.

Under the National Development Strategy (NDS 1), she said, all rural public institutions in the province should have access to electricity and by 2030 all rural areas should have electricity.

Eng Zimwara said to meet the target, the agency is not concentrating on grid electricity alone but also looking at local supplies such as solar and biogas energy in order to meet their target.

She said biogas energy is the process of producing energy by fermenting waste and is gaining popularity around the world as a way of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, cutting trees which causes deforestation and providing cheap, reliable and easy-to-produce local energy.

"For biogas energy, there are a total of 11 institutions which include schools and clinics that have the plants. Gokwe North has one institution, Gweru four, Kwekwe two, Shurugwi two and Zvishavane two," said Eng Zimwara.

She said while meaningful progress in the provision of biogas energy has been noted, remarkable progress has also been made in the provision of solar energy.

Eng Zimwara said a total of 105 institutions have had solar installed across the province.

"For solar power, Gokwe North has 18 centres or institutions that have been installed with solar power. Gokwe South 30, Gweru 6, Kwekwe 17, Mberengwa 9, Mvuma 8 Shurugwi 6 and Zvishavane 12," she said.

Eng Zimwara said one such solar project is at Melusi Primary and Secondary schools in Zhombe where the two schools are using solar energy.

"We installed a 20kw system at these schools. The beneficiaries are so happy about this development as we are embracing solar as one of the alternative energies people can use," she said.

Eng Zimwara said plans are underway for the installation of a solar system at Sawu Primary and Secondary schools in Gokwe North.

"That installation should be done by February after which we will go to Nembudziya area and install an 80kw system at Gandavaroyi service centre," she said.

Eng Zimwara said this year more institutions will be installed with solar and biogas power.

"The idea is to introduce biogas and solar energy as alternative energy to the people. Remember this is a technology that is being used in schools and clinics already. We want to save on energy and reduce electricity bills by using biogas for cooking, for example," she said.

Eng Zimwara urged communities to provide requisite security so that the infrastructure that would have been installed is not vandalised.

She also appealed to companies, institutions and individuals with the capacity to come forth and invest in renewable energy.

"We are appealing to those who can partner with us, be they private power producers, to come forth. Our vision is to reach each and every rural area, we want to have universal access to energy leaving no one or no place covered. We want the people to have at least one form of energy by 2030," said Eng Zimwara.

Source - Chronicle