Story and Picture by Johannes Nyamayedenga and Wadzanai Mandima
The Rural Electrification Fund (REF) extended the grid to 428 public institutions countrywide last year as it gears towards meeting its Zim-Asset target. According to the Zim-Asset blue print, REF falls under the Infrastructure and Utilities Cluster.
The Fund is expected to increase pace in the rural electrification programme for rural communities to engage in meaningful business ventures for economic empowerment and development.
REF chief executive Eng Joshua Mashamba is convinced that, funds permitting, the Fund will be able to provide energy to all rural public institutions by 2018. Out of the eight rural provinces, Manicaland electrified 82 public institutions that include 35 primary schools, 16 secondary schools, nine rural health centres, three Government extension offices, four business centres, four farms and 11 other related institutions.
Among the schools electrified, Sharara secondary in Makoni district, was chosen as the venue to host celebrations of the good work done by REF in province.
Guest of honour, Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge paid tribute to REF board, management and workers for their commitment to the provision of energy to rural Zimbabwe.
Minister Undenge said energy provision was promoting development and empowering rural communities to venture into self-help projects.
“The provision of energy will no doubt lead to economic empowerment of rural communities, poverty alleviation, capacity building and employment creation in rural communities,” he said.
In Mashonaland East province, 72 public institutions were electrified in 2015 while in Midlands province 58 public institutions benefited from REF’s rural electrification programme in the same year. Matabeleland North province connected 53 institutions to grid electricity, Mashonaland West managed 44, Matabeleland South (43), Masvingo (42) and Mashonaland Central (34).
Meanwhile, hundreds of villagers gathered at Mahusvu Secondary School in Chikomba District to celebrate REF’s achievement in Mashonaland East Province.
Energy and Power Development
secretary Mr Patson Mbiriri said the electrification of rural areas would transform the lifestyle of villagers in
line with Zim-Asset which advocates for better living conditions in rural Zimbabwe.
“Government has always recognised the importance of energy in general and electricity in particular as a vehicle for economic and social development of our country,” he said.
Other events to commission the projects were held in selected districts of all the provinces in the country. In Midlands, villagers gathered at Kabuyuni primary school in Gokwe to witness the electrification of two primary schools, one secondary school and the Chitekete business centre. Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister Tsitsi Muzenda said power at Chitekete was one of the greatest achievements in the province.
“As a ministry, we are very excited about this development. I want to take this opportunity to thank all staff members from REF and ZESA for doing a wonderful job,” she said.
The REF had electrified 8 338 institutions countrywide by December 31, 2015.