BY VANESSA GONYE
At least 10 500 families from rural areas around the country are set to benefit from a pay-as-you-go solar system which was launched in Bikita recently.
Zonful Power Energy products’ chief executive officer, William Ponela told stakeholders during the official launch of a renewable energy plant that there was a huge gap between those who had access to clean renewable energy and those without access.
“Zonful Power Energy are the actual movers when it comes to improving rural people’s access to clean renewable energy. If you look closely, there is no grid parity on hydro-electricity, but for solar power, the sun is everywhere.
“We are targeting at least 10 500 households for our pay as you go solar system which was initially started in Mhondoro Ngezi as a trial,” he said.
The development comes at a time the country is experiencing massive power outages emanating from the ever dwindling stocks at the country’s major hydro-power plants.
A pilot project was carried out in over 200 households in Mhondoro-Ngezi in 2017.
Speaking at the launch in Bikita, Ponela said the product was going to give energy to the rural populace, providing power for lights, television, iron and refrigeration, among other things.
“Our hope is that by 2023 everyone would have moved from kerosene because it is a problem and its something people don’t realise because its effects take time to (manifest),” he said.
He bemoaned the fact that rural areas that have no access to electricity are spending at least $1,5 million on candles annually.
Energy ministry secretary, Gloria Magombo said the development was in line with government efforts to achieve universal access to sustainable energy in Zimbabwe by 2030.
“Technology is constantly changing and more often than not our rural communities are left behind. It brings me joy that Zonful energy is bringing the solar technology revolution to the heart of our rural communities.
“The project has so far been successfully kick-started in partnership with a number of rural district councils such as Mhondoro-Ngezi, Gutu, Chivi and Zvishavane. Most inspiring is the job creation that is coming out of this,” she said.
An estimated 8,25 million people in the country live off-grid and depend on paraffin and firewood, while those connected to the national grid typically suffer erratic supplies.