Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
Rural areas are set for a major boost following the completion of the Rural Energy Master Plan whose implementation will ensure fast-track electrification of marginalised places in readiness for industrialisation and the creation of employment. The Rural Energy Master Plan, which took over 29 months to complete, was developed by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development in partnership with Norconsult Consultants.
The ambitious rural electrification project fits in Government’s industrialisation vision and the 10 Point Plan for Economic Growth enunciated by President Mugabe, as energy is a major economic driver.
Addressing delegates at the final Rural Energy Master Plan (REMP) workshop held in Harare yesterday, Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge said the plan was important in supporting Government’s strategy for long term energy development.
“As we welcome the finalisation of the Rural Energy Master Plan, we need to look forward as Government and reflect on the policy framework under which the REMP and other energy initiatives will be implemented,” he said.
“Once finalised and adopted, the Rural Energy Master Plan becomes our national plan for provision of energy to all rural areas in Zimbabwe, hence its importance in supporting Government’s strategy for long term energy development for the country cannot be over-emphasised.
“It is Government’s responsibility to outline the country’s vision or energy development agenda such as universal access by all by 2030 and defines the targets to be achieved and the timeline before allocating precise roles and responsibilities to stakeholders involved in energy development between Government agencies, beneficiaries, incumbent service providers, contractors and non-governmental organisations.
“The Sustainable Energy for All initiative by the Government defines the country targets and provides the road map for development of the various types of technologies, as well as operationalisation of the Government development agenda.”
Dr Undenge said the Rural Energy Master Plan should address numerous challenges, considering that electricity lines in rural areas were usually long, but supplied low loads to low-income earners.
Said Dr Undenge; “It (Master Plan) should also identify to whom the energy will be supplied and the type of technologies through which energy would be supplied.
“In the framework, the methods for prioritisation of energy projects need to be declared and so should the procedures for effective implementation and monitoring.
“The sources of revenues needed to carry out investments in energy development and ensure service sustainability need to be identified.”
Rural Electrification Fund board chairman Mr Willard Chiwewe said: “It is my wish that once this draft Rural Energy Master Plan is finalised and adopted, you will work out mechanisms to from your Government colleagues, as this Rural Energy Master Plan has relevance not only to your ministry (Energy and Power Development), but to all other sectors of our economic endeavour as well.
“I wish to say now we are coming to the end of the journey, kindly make sure that you (stakeholders) participate actively in order to give a positive shape to the final Rural Energy Master Plan.”
The Rural Energy Master Plan was launched in 2015, with five phases namely inception and planning, market study, master planning, financial and economic analysis and the REMP Finalisation phase.
Its implementation is expected to change the outlook of rural areas, which will have access to electricity through the rural electrification programme.
It is expected that constant power supplies to the rural areas will turn service centres into employment hubs, as investors attracted by the abundant natural resources in such areas flock in.