HYDROPOWER PLANT TO PROVIDE ELECTRICITY TO RURAL AREA
The electrification of urban areas and informal settlements in South Africa has increased rapidly over the last 20 years, but the provision of electricity to rural areas is still a challenge. Rural electrification has the potential to improve the standard of living of people in a developing country such as South Africa. In line with the Department of Science and Technology’s (dst) commitment to exploring alternative technologies to achieve universal access to power, 54 households in the KwaMadiba settlement, rural Easten Cape will soon receive access to electricity through a small-scale hydropower scheme. In partnership with local munipalities, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the scheme forms part of the dst’s Innovative Partnership for Rural Development Programme, which is piloting innovative technology solutions to enhance service delivery. The programme involves the prioritised needs of 23 district municipalities and is intended to provide rural communites with a reliable electricity supply, thus improving their standard of living.
“THE PROGRAMME INVOLVES THE PRIORITISED NEEDS OF 23 DISTRICT MUNICIPALITIES AND IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE RURAL COMMUNITIES WITH A RELIABLE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY, THUS IMPROVING THEIR STANDARD OF LIVING. “
The hydropower plant is located at Thina Falls on the Thina River within the Mhlontlo Local Municipality, which falls under the OR Tambo District Municipality. According Thato Seabi, on-site manager, the small-scale hydropower project will play a crucial role in providing energy access to the remote area. Seabi says that the project will have a significant impact on the quality of life of the KwaMadiba community since electricity would be generated at no cost. The introduction of electricity to the area will also make it possible for the community, who rely on subsistence farming, to irrigate their crops with an electric pump. The Municipal Manager for the Mhlonto Local Municipality, Sibongile Sotshongaye, says the location of the hydropower plant will create the opportunity to develop Thina Falls as a tourist attraction, not only by introducing electricity to the area, but also by improving access to the downstream side of Thina Falls that was previously inaccessible. To date, the project has created 76 jobs, nearly half of which have been allocated to local labourers from the Mhlontlo Local Municipality.