$118 000 elec­tri­fi­ca­tion project com­mis­sioned at Mat North schools

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pamela Shumba Se­nior Re­porter

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

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