By Chileshe Mwango

As of July 2023, only about 27 local authorities had signed memoranda of understanding with the Rural Electrification Authority-REA on the Priority Rural Electrification Project-PREP.

Under this project, the authority is partnering with local authorities across the country where they are expected to allocate about One Million Kwacha each from the Constituency Development Fund-CDF towards the electrification of public places of critical social-economic importance in the rural areas with the sole purpose of enhancing the electrification of priority projects.

The electricity access gap among many rural communities remains the biggest hindrance to recouping the huge productivity potential they possess in the areas of agriculture, tourism and fishing among others.

Regrettably, this lack of electricity has existed since the pre-independence era to date and could be the reason behind high poverty levels that have characterized some of Zambia’s rural areas.

Following this realization, the cumulative number of councils that have since come on board to sign the MoU with REA is 73 countrywide.

This means that the social and economic picture of areas whose potential could not be realized due to lack of connectivity to the national grid will now receive the level of transformation never witnessed before

Speaking recently when four local authorities on the Copperbelt, namely Chingola, Chililabombwe, Kitwe and Mfulira partnered with REA on the implementation of PREP in their jurisdictions, Chingola Mayor Johnson Kang'ombe said the partnership will help bridge the energy gap and empower local communities with access to reliable and sustainable electricity, which is vital for socio-economic development.

In western Province, over 500 kilometers from Zambia’s capital city is Mulobezi Town which is also endowed with untapped natural resources such as timber due to lack of electricity.

Speaking after inking a partnership with REA on the implementation of the much sought after Priority Rural Electrification Project, Mulobezi Town Council Secretary Isaac Zimba expressed hope the project will raise access to electricity from the current 50 percent and bring life to this small-town.

There are also areas such as Lufwanyama which are mostly rural; a project such as the PREP is a game changer as it is the only hope for accelerated connectivity to the national grid.

Lufwanyama Acting Council Secretary Habwacha Hachoongo wants REA to expedite implementation of the electrification projects so the area, just like those in many other parts of the country, can begin to record the much-needed development which has eluded the district due to the electricity access gap.

Meanwhile, the Rural Electrification Authority-REA who are the implementers of the project reaffirmed their readiness to work with the local Authority by providing technical support.

REA Chief Executive Officer Linus Chanda said the coordinated effort of the stakeholders through the signing of the MoUs will promote progress and the wellbeing of rural communities while the authority fulfills its mandate which is to provide fair and sustainable access to electricity by citizens in rural areas and enable socio-economic transformation.

Engineer Chanda says the partnership will also create lasting solutions for rural communities.

Access to reliable and affordable electricity has the potential to improve the provision of social services such as health and education.

It is therefore important that the implementation of the Priority Rural Electrification Project is successful.


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