Zambia’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA), a governmental organization with the aim to provide electricity infrastructure nationwide targeting rural communities, has recently completed over 90% of the electrification projects at Chief Mwinuna in Mpongwe district in the Copperbelt.
Chief Mwinuna is within the 16 project packages (PPs) and 129 Rural-Growth Centres (RGCs) identified in the Copperbelt as part of Zambia’s Rural Electrification Master Plan (REMP), which manages 180 PPs and 1,217 RGCs nationwide to increase rural electrification rate from 3.0% to 51% by 2030.
The REMP represents a total investment of USD 1.1 billion – more than ZMW 5.7 trillion – partially funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Zambian government, which expects to finish the first phase in February 2015 and start boosting the agriculture sector in the region.
So far, 52 out of 55 kilometres of the transmission line have been extended and Chief Winuna is expected to be fully electrified by April, 2016, since private investors have started to set up their projects along the power line as it has been completed in the recent months, explained REA CEO Geoffrey Musonda.
Agricultural activity is concentrating in the north of Zambia due to more reliable rainfall and it is important for investors to count with the infrastructure necessary to develop their farming projects, Mr. Musonda added.
According to JICA, rural electrification will support agro businesses with avoiding paying extra and high fees to meet their power needs using alternative energy sources since at the time the REMP was developed, an average business needed to pay a monthly bill of ZMW 75,315 while it should be at around ZMW 60,252.
Regarding Households, the connection fee charged by Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) will be also reduced after the extension of the power line is completed since currently it is at ZMW 2,873,000, much higher than the average household monthly income of ZMW 910,757.