60% of Zimbabwean population has no access to electricity

EIGHT million Zimbabweans have no access to electricity and are still using traditional sources of energy mainly firewood, a University of Zimbabwe Institute of Environmental Studies study (IES) has revealed.

Edward Makuzva

Statistics revealed  that 60% of  Zimbabwe’s  population has been deprived of the basic commodity (electricity).

In a speech read on his behalf by Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Partson Mbiriri, Undenge said use of firewood should come to an end as forests are dwindling and new innovative solutions should be sought.

This was revealed yesterday  in Harare at a Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas programme in commemoration of the ‘Clean Energy Week.’

“Surely, in this 21st century we cannot continue to accept and take such situations as norms.

“We need to look for innovative means to help the bulk of the population residing in rural areas access modern forms of energy’’, Undenge explained.

The minister warned that burning of firewood comes with major disadvantages like health hazards, ecological disruptions resulting in climate change, environmental pollution as well as the burden of labour borne mostly by women and children.

He reiterated the need to have modern forms of energy through the provision of grid electricity, solar and wind power, as well as bio-fuels such as biogas to increase people’s opportunities to enhance their productivity.

Undenge added various forms of modern media are in need of power such as electricity, but Zimbabweans have been deprived of information through lack of power.

“In this fast changing world we can longer continue depriving over half of the population with such necessary facilities to ensure they have access to information and resources that can better their lives,” he added.

Zimbabweans have for the past decade experiencing acute shortages of power (electricity) due to maladministration by the power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) which has been paying hefty salaries to its workers at the expense of the people.

Even though the company installed pre-paid meters, the situation has worsened with some areas in Harare going for days without electricity.

Undenge attributed current electricity shortages to lower volumes of water at Kariba Dam which has resulted in lower electricity generation.

The minister commended Hivos and Netherlands Development Organisation ( SNV) who initiated the programme in joining hands with government ministries to show case renewable and clean energy sources such as biogas.

The biogas programme has so far reached 4000 rural households and 135 biogas digesters have been built countrywide as the organizations target 63 000 households by end of 2017.