THE Government has connected over 90 000 rural institutions, including business centres, schools and chiefs’ homesteads, to the national grid since the launch of the National Renewable Energy Policy in 2017.
This comes as the New Dispensation has set its sight on achieving goals of making sure that all rural schools and businesses are electrified by the year 2030.
Speaking during commissioning of the Donsa rural electrification programme in Silobela last week, Energy and Power Development Minister, Soda Zhemu said the Second Republic had set aside a significant chunk of money to fund the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to provide electricity at household level.
“In 2017, the Ministry (of Energy and power Development) launched the National Energy Policy, which seeks to make sure that every Zimbabwean has access to low cost environmentally friendly energy services,” he said.
“In March this year, President ED Mnangagwa again launched the National Renewable Energy policy and this has continued to register meaningful progress in the electrification of rural areas in Zimbabwe and by September 30 this year, rural institutions had been connected to electricity or solar technology system.”
Minister Zhemu said the Midlands alone had over 1 000 rural businesses and schools on the electricity grid.
He said over 80 percent of the country’s health institutions in rural areas had electricity, while 70 percent of secondary schools were also connected.
“At the moment, 87 percent of rural health centres, and 80 percent of chiefs’ homesteads, 60 percent of our rural primary schools have electricity, while 72 percent of secondary schools throughout the country have power,” said Minister Zhemu.
“The only area that we need to improve on is the provision of electricity at household level, which currently stands at 20 percent.”
Minister Zhemu said his ministry will continue to explore avenues to fund the electrification of rural areas, which he said was key in curbing the rural to urban migration.
“My ministry will continue to explore avenues to support the rural electrification programme so it can fulfil its mandate of rapid and equitable provision of energy in rural areas,” he said.
“The Government, through Treasury, has an allocation of $70 million in 2020 to augment the rural electrification fund levy to support the programme.
“Provision of electricity in rural areas will lead to the empowerment of our rural communities and alleviate poverty, build capacity and create employment, it also reduces the rural to urban migration.”
Minister Zhemu said the electrification of rural hospitals and clinics was helping reduce the mortality rate.
“It has the potential to improve the quality of lives in rural areas and enables the use of mass media tools such as the internet in schools,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, REA board member, Engineer Flora Chikonye, said the Donsa rural electrification programme was funded to the tune of $290 000 and was connected to three schools and a business centre.
“The grid can also accommodate about 1 000 households as the agency moves to make sure that rural communities get electricity at household level,” she said.