HARARE - The Zimbabwe Rural Electrification Fund has accrued close to $245 million between 2009 and 2015 from six percent levy, fiscus funding and other income, as government moves to empower rural communities.
The Fund, which was established through an Act of Parliament (Chapter 13:20) of 2002, has so far seen more than 8 000 rural institutions, farms, villages, borehole, dam points and irrigation schemes electrified under the rural electrification programme.
Energy minister Samuel Undenge this week said since January 2002 to 31 December 2015, 6 158 rural nodes, including public institutions, villages, farms, chiefs’ homesteads and other communal centres were electrified using electricity grid.
“424 solar mini-grid systems and 437 mobile solar systems were installed at remove rural institutions. In addition, 36 institutional biogas digesters were installed at rural institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons,” he said.
Despite the rural electrification programme having been in existence for the past 14 years, Undenge noted that about 3 700 rural public institutions remain without electricity to date.
“It is estimated that between $250 and $300 million is required to provide some form of energy source to these outstanding rural public institutions. Of the 3 700 institutions, about 3 000 are within 20km of the existing grid network while the remainder are beyond 20km from the existing grip network,” he said.
In an effort to meet the country’s five-year economic blueprint, ZimAsset, targets, the rural electrification fund is planning to extend the grid to all institutions within 20km of the existing grid network, while providing those beyond 20km with renewable energy sources by 2018.
Undenge, however, said achievement of this target is subject to availability of resources.
“In the outlook, in line with government vision, it is envisaged that all rural communities will have access to modern energy services by 2030. The rural electrification fund is expected to play a pivotal role in this government effort,” he said.
“If government, through the rural electrification fund, is to attain this vision of universal access to modern energy services by all by 2030, it will be necessary to continue charging consumers the rural electrification levy, until such time when other alternative sources of funding have been identified,” he added.
This comes as the country — currently struggling with an acute power shortage — is pursuing various energy projects aimed at reducing load-shedding.
Zimbabwe requires 2 200 megawatts of electricity per day but the country is only producing 1 000 megawatts.