By Nawa Mutumweno – The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has obtained funding from the World Bank to subsidise new connections in rural areas.
According to chief executive officer Wilfred Serenje, the funding agreement was signed in December 2010 between the Zambian government and the World Bank.
“The World Bank signed a $10 million agreement with the government on December 13, 2010 to be administered by the REA to subsidise 30 000 new connections,” he elaborated.
The amount will only cover areas in which electricity distribution networks have been put in place. Subsidising the new connections will help make access to electricity easy in rural areas.
“This is just an initial amount. Once we see the success in subsidizing connections, we shall mobilize more funds from government and development partners to go beyond the 30 000 connections,” Mr Serenje said.
The authority has made significant strides in its mandate to take electricity to rural areas since its formation a few years ago.
These strides include the launch of the Rural Electrification Master Plan (REMP), conclusion of the European Union (EU) energy financing facility procurement process and acquisition of a $10 million World Bank financing facility.
In 2010, the authority has electrified a number of rural areas countrywide including Kaparu Mission, Buleyamalima in Southern Province and Sikongo in Western Province. The electrification of Kaputa and Chilubi Island is ongoing with the latter almost completed.
The Kasaba Bay electrification project is also underway with a number of settlements near the bay scheduled to benefit from the development.
In a bid to enhance its operations, REA is set to improve its staffing levels this year and also open offices in all provincial centres.
The electrification of Luangwa in Central Zambia is one of the challenges facing the authority as connecting the district to the national grid requires more money than the authority is able to allocate for it.