GOVERNMENT has admitted that the rural electrification programme established in 2002 together with the Rural Electrification Fund (REF), is also catching the cold, as the nation grapples with deteriorating economic conditions.
by TINOTENDA MUNYUKWI
The revelations were made on Thursday by Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, during the commissioning of the Mungari, Dindi, Jamari schools and Dindi Clinic electrification project.
“Despite the commendable progress made by the REF in the electrification of rural areas, the rural electrification programme has not been spared from economic and other challenges faced by our country over the past few years,” he said in a speech read for him by his deputy, Senator Tsitsi Muzenda.
He said the REF was being starved of funds to help accelerate the electrification of rural areas.
“The 6% electrification levy that REF gets through electricity sales and fiscal allocation by government are not adequate to accelerate or to sustain the momentum already gained by the programme,” Undenge said.
He cited inadequate power generation at Kariba Power Station as another huge stumbling block towards the successful implementation of the rural electrification programme.
Undenge said efforts were already underway to rectify some of the problems being caused by the inefficient energy generation in the country.
“Our government, in collaboration with other Sadc countries, is exploring all avenues to alleviate the severe power shortage in the region through the expansion of existing power stations and development of new power stations,” he said.
“In this regard, as you may be aware, government embarked on the Kariba South Power Station expansion project in 2014.”
Rural Electrification Authority chairman Willard Chiwewe urged rural communities to use power for the improvement of their standards of living.
“I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland East to mobilise and encourage all community-based government departments, civic organisations and rural communities themselves to make maximum use of this project in order to uplift the standard of living of our rural mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters,” Chiwewe said.
The REF has seen many previously marginalised communities receiving electricity and in Mashonaland East alone, it has electrified 1 217 institutions with 98 being in the Zanu PF stronghold of Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe district.