Access to energy unleashes communities’ potential
Access to energy stimulates innovation, transformation and creativity among communities whilst closing the digital gap. Energy services such as lighting, cooking and heating, are essential for rural socio-economic development.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) extends its hearty congratulations to the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for successfully launching the single wire earth return (SWER) project.
“This is a welcome development by REA as SWER is a technology which is low cost, safe and reliable”, said ZERA’s Chief Executive Officer Engineer Gloria Magombo.
“Access to electricity enables children, the youth and communities to realise their full potential as active members of vibrant economic sub-groups. In rural communities, women and girls bear the energy needs burden; for example they spend a lot of time looking for firewood among other domestic chores. This compromises the amount of time available for the girl child to study, effectively lowering her chances of acquiring further education.” added Magombo.
Accelerating rural electrification
The country’s economic blue print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Structural Socio Economic Transformation (ZIM ASSET), identifies energy as a key enabler under infrastructure and utilities as well as under the value addition and beneficiation clusters.
“ZERA expects REA to accelerate its rural electrification programs across the country given the short time it takes to connect consumers using the SWR technology”, said Magombo.
The energy regulator is pleased with the SWER initiative as it resonates with its mission to ensure the country has access to energy supply which is reliable, adequate and sustainable, whilst the prices charged are fair, the environment is protected and is supplied safely through effective regulation.
Statutory obligation to support access to energy
ZERA is mandated to ensure maximization of access to energy by all consumers that is affordable and environmentally sustainable.
ZERA has a statutory obligation to hand over any excess funds from the electricity sector every year to REA in recognition of the importance of access to energy in the rural communities. REA’s SWER project is expected to close the gap that exists between urban areas and rural communities as the connection program gathers momentum.
The SWER project is coming at a time when the energy regulator is urging consumers to use energy efficiently as a measure to alleviate the country’s power deficit.
Using energy efficiently in industries, institutions, commerce and households will reduce load shedding as up to 300MW power savings can be realised.
“Embracing energy efficiency is the first level of saving energy in the country” noted Eng. Magombo.
“Not only will consumers save money but they will release extra power which will go to productive sectors and other parts of the country with such technology as the SWR” she said.
Simple actions such as switching off lights in all unoccupied rooms, switching off the geyser or installing a geyser timer switch and changing light bulbs to light emitting diode (LED) bulbs will make a significant impact on energy savings.
Zimbabwe’s electrification level stands at 37% but with such initiatives as the SWR and an increased uptake of renewable energy technologies, the level is set to increase.