Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
The Rural Electrification Fund (REF) will now electrify public institutions like Government extension offices and schools for free to improve the livelihoods of people in communal areas.
The interventions are in line with the Government’s Transitional Stabilisation (TSP) of investing in public infrastructure and contributing to the revival of the economy.
The TSP recognises that functional public infrastructure remains a key enabler to unlocking economic growth potential, increase competiveness and productivity, while equipping public services to meet demand.
REF public relations and marketing executive Mr Johannes Nyamayedenga said the organisation has so far electrified 9 312 public institutions and households since 2002, with 5 390 having benefited from the project between January and March this year.
“The authority has electrified 2 699 primary schools, 1 359 secondary schools, 874 rural health centres, 411 Government extension offices, 244 chiefs’ households, 952 business centres, 774 small scale farms, 1175 villages and 803 other institutions.
“The decision to electrify public institutions for free was arrived at by REF board after realising that some schools and communities were facing financial challenges to fund the project,” he said.
Mr Nyamayedenga said the staff at such institutions will have to pay for their households to be electrified.
“We have a facility where we offer 100 percent capital subsidy, he said. People do not pay for construction of lines, but only for internal wiring of their buildings and connection fees to the ZETDC.
“Those who qualify for this facility are primary and secondary schools, Government extension offices, chiefs’ homesteads and Government departments such as police posts, District Development Fund, Agritex and Department of veterinary services offices among others.
“Rural communities have been facing challenges in raising funds for internal wiring and paying ZETDC for connection fees. The REF board made a decision to do the internal wiring, buy tubing using own resources and also pay connection fees for schools.
“This is only done for the administration block, science laboratories and computer laboratories to ensure pupils and students can learn in a conducive environment.
Teachers at schools will continue to raise funds for internal wiring and paying ZETDC for connection.
Clinics will be assisted 100 percent while staff will have to pay on their own.
Mr Nyamayedenga said REF was encouraging villagers to form groups of 10 and more households to benefit from the 50 percent subsidy and they only pay for tubing and connection to ZETDC.
“After building the infrastructure, we invite ZETDC to inspect and energise the line which they will own and maintain, he said. They will also bill the customer.
“As we celebrate independence, we are transforming the lives of people in communal areas so that they have the same benefits as those in urban areas and also ensure there is development in the rural areas.
“We are celebrating independence when our people are also celebrating access to electricity.”
REF is also complementing grid electricity through the introduction of biogas and solar energy.
The advantage with biogas is that the waste can also be used as a rich organic fertiliser for agricultural production.
He said REF has been facing challenges of shortage of foreign currency, which was delaying projects.