THE Rural Electrification Authority (REA) says the electrification of some rural parts of the country has created business opportunities for members of the community and also improved their economic well-being. Some community members in the rural areas have been able to set up new businesses such as internet cafes, operating of electric hammer mills, entertainment centres, welding, hair salons, barbershops, carpentry and poultry.
REA Corporate Affairs Manager Justine Mukosa said the availability of electricity in the rural areas had created business opportunities for the local community.
Rural parts of Southern Province are set to be electrified during the first and second quarter of next year under REA’s phase one projects. “The Authority has seen first-hand how the supply of electricity to the rural areas has boosted the economic activities in the project areas from a micro scale such as agriculture, retail trading, alcoholic beverage trading, maize milling, and cooking oil processing,” he said.
Mr Mukosa said this had also improved staffing levels at public institutions with availability of power.
Electricity was also providing an enabling environment for people to improve their businesses, education, health and general livelihood. “Since inception, the Authority has seen the positive impact that the supply of electricity has had on the communities where projects have been implemented,” he said.
REA’s mandated was to promote the utilisation of available technological options to enhance the contribution of energy to the development of various economic activities in rural areas. Recently the Authority acquired a US$26.5 million credit facility from the World Bank to increase access rate in selected project areas in the country.
The Authority has formulated a five-year project through the credit facility called Electricity Services Access Project (ESAP) which started from 2017 to 2022.
Currently, the project has so far connected 1997 households while 2997 paid up beneficiaries awaiting connections.
The ESAP project was being implemented in Northern, Luapula, Copperbelt, North-western, Eastern, Southern, Muchinga, Central and Western provinces.