Sunday News Reporter
THE Government has undertaken to strengthen the Rural Electrification Fund (Rea) to ensure empowerment of rural communities through extension of the electricity grid to rural service centres, business centres, growth points, households, schools and clinics.
According to the Government economic guideline, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, the Government will leverage on the Rural Electrification Fund and US$50 million will be mobilised from the market in support of solar mini grid systems for targeted communities and small rural based business ventures.
The energy sector is one of the priority areas identified by Government as it seeks to make the country an upper middle-income economy by 2030. In addition, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting said on social media (twitter) last week that the Rural Electrification Authority managed to electrify a number of institutions in the rural areas last year.
“The institutions include 94 primary schools, 40 secondary schools, 15 clinics and 25 homesteads for chiefs.”
In Matabeleland South, eight primary schools were electrified, three secondary schools were electrified, two clinics were connected to power and two chiefs had their homesteads electrified. In Matabeleland North, the statistics were as follows; 13 primary schools, four secondary schools and two chiefs’ homesteads. In Midlands, there were 19 primary schools, nine secondary schools, three clinics and six chiefs’ homesteads that were connected with electricity.
In Masvingo, the statistics were as follows; 10 primary schools, seven secondary schools, three clinics and two chiefs’ homesteads.
In Mashonaland West, nine primary schools, three secondary schools, two clinics and four chiefs’ homesteads got power. In Mashonaland East, 13 primary schools, six secondary schools, two clinics and six chiefs’ homesteads got power. In Mashonaland Central, 12 primary schools, four secondary schools, one clinic and two chief’s homestead were electrified and in Manicaland, 10 primary schools, four secondary schools, two clinics and one chief’s homestead got power.
On energy, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme says investments to maximise domestic generation capacity at the lowest social, environmental and economic cost from all sources will be pursued.
“This includes upgrading the transmission infrastructure to ensure that electricity generated is delivered to consumers with minimal losses.
Solar is an alternative source of power, particularly for rural households in off-grid areas. It is a clean and environmentally friendly source of power that also augments grid efforts to improve on access to energy supply.
Adoption of the use of renewable energy sources through installing solar street lights along all rehabilitated roads across towns. The introduction of a solar lighting system is also a cost cutting measure.
Furthermore, increased reliance on solar energy will be boosted by local authorities’ requirements for all new housing development plans to embrace solar geysers.”
The Government has also installed solar micro grids at 419 at schools and clinics in rural areas.
The use of solar energy will reduce the use of firewood in rural areas and curtail deforestation.