$118 000 electrification project commissioned at Mat North schools
THE Rural Electrification Fund (REF) yesterday commissioned an $118 000 electrification project at Simbo primary and secondary schools in Nkayi, Matabeleland North as Government steps up efforts to electrify every rural institution in the country.
The two schools are located about 65km from Nkayi Centre.
Speaking after commissioning the project, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Dr Samuel Undenge, said Government was committed to achieving its energy development agenda to provide electricity to all by the year 2030.
“Energy is the engine for socio economic development and a key enabler which opens up a wide range of potential end uses which are significant in contributing to economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for our rural people. In this regard, it’s Government’s responsibility to outline the country’s vision or energy development agenda such as universal access to sustainable modern energy services to all by 2030,” said Dr Undenge.
He said the Government was in the process of putting in place a number of policies necessary to attain the 2030 vision.
Dr Undenge said his Ministry is currently finalising the National Renewable Energy Policy, which outlines some action plans for the development of renewable and clean energy solutions.
“It’s also encouraging to note that the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) is in the process of finalising the Rural Energy Master Plan for Zimbabwe, which once finalised will become our national plan for provision of energy to all rural areas in the country. “It’s importance in supporting Government’s strategy for long term energy development for the country can’t be over emphasised,” said Dr Undenge.
REF, the Minister added, has so far made considerable progress in its electrification projects, with 8 928 rural institutions having been electrified countrywide.
He, however, bemoaned lack of funding for the projects due to economic and other challenges faced by the Government.
“The six percent electrification levy that REF gets through electricity sales and fiscal allocation by Government are not adequate to accelerate the programme or to sustain the momentum already gained by the programme.
“Another challenge faced by the fund is the erratic supply of materials for project implementation due to a shortage of foreign currency,” said Minister Undenge.
He said the shortage of foreign currency has resulted in delays in project implementation and in some cases failure to implement planned projects.
Dr Undenge said Government would continue to explore ways of supporting REF to enable it to carry out its mandate of facilitating rapid and equitable energy provision to rural areas in the country.
“Provision of energy to rural areas will no doubt lead to the empowerment of rural communities, poverty alleviation, capacity building and employment creation in line with Zim-Asset.
“I’m happy that many schools are now electrified and able to offer a variety of subjects and attract qualified teachers who shun working in the rural areas.
“Similarly in rural health centres, electricity has brought positive changes. The child mortality rate has been reduced and expecting mothers are now giving birth in well-lit and conducive environments,” said Dr Undenge.
He urged schools, clinics and other government institutions to fully utilise the electrification projects and guard them against theft and vandalism.
REF board chairman, Mr Willard Chiwewe, said the Simbo electrification project was completed at a total cost of $118,440.
Yesterday’s commissioning ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, who is also the Member of Parliament for Nkayi North, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, REF and Zesa Holdings senior officials, Government officials, traditional leaders, members of the community and school children. — @pamelashumba1