March 22, 2024

US$4,2m solar project lights up rural areas

Spread the love
Africa Moyo-Deputy News Editor

AN accelerated programme to continue electrification in rural areas under a US$4,2 million scheme that started last year, has brought joy to some rural communities as more people now have access to electricity in line with President Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind.

The programme is being implemented by the Rural Electrification Fund, formed by Government in 2002, and has electrified 10 000 public institutions such as schools and clinics since then.

In an interview yesterday, REF public relations and marketing executive Mr Johannes Nyamayedenga said they were intensifying the rural electrification programme to ensure everyone in rural Zimbabwe had access to electricity.

The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) identified the provision of reliable and low-cost energy access as Government’s top priority, particularly in light of the huge investments in sectors such as mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.

Zimbabwe’s electricity penetration rate is at 41 percent, with up to 80 percent of people in rural areas not having access to electricity.

As a result, the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) has been assigned to ensure it broadens electricity access in rural areas for the benefit of those living there, including learners who have to use ICT gadgets like their urban counterparts.

Said Mr Nyamayedenga: “We have embarked on a massive solar programme and since inception, we have extended the grid network to over 10 000 public institutions countrywide, transforming the lives of thousands of people.”

Some of the public institutions that have benefitted from the programme include schools, rural health centres, Government extension offices, police posts, the Rural Infrastructure Development Agency and Chief’s homesteads.

Mr Nyamayedenga said Chief’s homesteads were classified as public institutions since many people go there seeking a number of services including justice.

“We electrify all these (public institutions) on 100 percent Government subsidy so no one pays; they only pay for bills at the end of the month and the money is used to rehabilitate the solar infrastructure.

“So, we are saying we have a mandate to provide energy in the whole rural Zimbabwe by 2030, and to achieve that we should embrace renewable energy because grid (electricity) alone cannot help us achieve our mandate by 2030,” said Mr Nyamayedenga.

The solar projects were being implemented under two schemes for institutional and community solar projects, in all 10 provinces.

Institutional solar projects are standalone mini-grid electricity projects whereby two schools including teachers’ houses, a clinic and potentially a borehole, would be connected.

The electricity could be used to cook, iron and power radios and television sets.

All the projects started last year and most of them have been completed.

Once completed, communities and residents of public institutions can use water pumped from boreholes to start garden projects while others can use the electricity to embark on self-help projects such as welding, and improve their living standards.

Some of the completed projects include the Chikwizi Primary School and clinic project where there is a 15kW in Chipinge and the 10kW at Nyamusosa Clinic in Makoni District.

In Buhera, there is the 15kW at Matsakanure Secondary School that has been completed while in Makonde there is the 20kW at Runene Primary School project.

Some of the community projects that have been completed while others are work in progress are the Hakwata project started in Chipinge District, where a 220kW solar photovoltaic system has been installed and completed.

Muzarabani District has the Chiwenga project where a 45kW mini-grid has been installed and services Chiwenga primary and secondary schools, a clinic, business centre and homestead.

In Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, there is the Chiwore 60kW, Hurungwe has the Dete 120kW project for Dete primary and secondary, a clinic, business centre and homesteads.

Gutu District has the Soti Source where 160 kW has been installed, while Beitbridge has the 120kW Chitulipasi Community mini-grid.

In the Gokwe North, there is the 96 kW Gandavaroyi project, among many others across the country. The Herald

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this: