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THE Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has electrified more than 745 public institutions in Matabeleland South province since its formation in 2002, an official has said.

Speaking during the occasion to mark the switch on ceremony at Matshiya primary school in Gwanda North last week, REA’s Matabeleland South provincial rural electrification manager, Engineer Silba Zimwara said the company has made great strides in electrifying institutions in the province.

“Since the formation of REA, we have recorded notable achievements in Matabeleland South province, with 745 public institutions that include 322 both primary and secondary schools having been electrified,” said Eng Zimwara.

“REA has also electrified 77 rural health centres, 38 government extension offices, 21 chiefs’ homesteads, 96 business centres, 18 small scale farms, 117 villages and 56 related institutions in the province,” she added.

The REA official said the rural electrification programme has transformed rural areas and improved the lifestyle of villagers.

“Many schools that benefited from either grid electricity or solar energy now have access to computers and teachers no longer shun working in rural areas. The same applies to rural health centres, where nurses now work in a friendly environment. It was tiresome for a nurse to dispense drugs, to test blood pressure and take temperature of patients in darkness,” said the official.

She said REA was embarking on an ambitious programme to exploit renewable energy technologies as the demand for grid electricity in both rural and urban areas was increasing.

“The current rollout programme has placed much emphasis on solar and biogas energy which is reliable, environmentally friendly, affordable and readily available. The idea to embrace renewable energy technologies is to make sure that by 2040 every household, school, clinic and any public institution in the rural areas of Zimbabwe have access to one form of energy or the other, and Matabeleland South is not an exception,” said Eng Zimwara.

She said to date, the company has installed about 400 mini grid solar systems at public institutions countrywide.

“In addition, we are also installing Solar Home Systems to individual rural homesteads on request by those who can afford,” said Eng Zimwara.

Matshiya primary school headmistress Mrs Sphiwe Ncube expressed gratitude to REA for installing power at the school.

She said they were going to use the power for income generating project.

Source : The Herald