Vice president Inonge Wina has commissioned the construction of the first-ever mini-hydro grid in Mwinilunga under the Rural Electrification Authority (REA)
Once complete, the Kasanjiku Mini-hydro power station which would generate 640 kilowatts or power is aimed to supply electricity to over 12,000 people in Senior Chiefs Ntambu and Sailunga’s areas in two years time.
Ms Wina said government had put in place a rural electrification master plan that would guide systematic electrification of Rural areas of zambia up to the year 2030.
“This master plan to electrify rural areas will require US $50 million per year to be implemented and that will raise the access profile from the current 3.7 percent to 51 percent,” she said.
She said the Kasanjiku mini hydro powerstation was a very important project under REA as it was a substantial undertaking that would be a flagship of government efforts to increase access to electicity in rural areas.
Ms Wina called on TEA to continue exploring more areas across the country that would help construct more mini hydro stations to lessen burden on the main grid.
She reiterated government’s committed to transform rural Zambia because of its potential contribution to the national development.
The Vice-president said it was her hope that with the provision of electricity in rural areas, the community would set up businesses such as salons, restaurants , and other services.
She appealed to the private sector to join hands with government through the public private partnerships (PPP) to consider investing in viable ventures such as providing energy in rural areas.
Mrs Wina urged the contractor not to take labour from Lusaka but ensure that he employs local people and implement the contract according to the contractual obligations.
Speaking at the same function, REA board chairperson Jerry Mwenechanya said the power produced at the site would greatly benefit people in senior chiefs Ntambu and Sailunga’s areas.
Prof Mwenechanya said the plant will supply an isolated mini-grid to supply power to Luwi Mission Hospital, eight primary schools, three high schools, four rural health centres and one local court.
Others areas to benefit are churches,chiefs palaces, trading centres and several households.
“ REA has completed feasibility studies at four other sites in North Western Province where it intends to set up mini hydro grids” he said.
Prof Mwenechanya said the hydro projects were examples of REA’s diversified strategy for electrification.
Minister of Energy David Mabumba said he expects the project to be completed in good time.Meanwhile, Chief Ntambu thanked government for bringing the project to his chiefdom saying it would improve the people’s livelihood.
“I can assure you that this project will be guarded jealously to ensure that it benefits the local people,” he said.
He also pledged his support to government to ensure that development gets to his area.