The Sunday Mail
“An estimated 600 000 people – mostly women and children – die annually due to indoor air pollution associated with the use of fuel wood for cooking. Children under-perform in schools due to lack of electricity, since over 90 percent of Africa’s primary schools lack electricity.
Lives are at risk in many African hospitals, as life-saving equipment and services lie unused due to lack of electricity,” states the African Development Bank in its New Energy for Africa strategic report.
This is corroborated by SEforALL in Africa, which states that in Zimbabwe, only 40 percent (16 percent in rural areas, 78 percent in urban areas) have access to electricity. This is exacerbated by old equipment at some of the country’s electricity substations, which is a major threat to reliable power supply.
Like any other economy, electricity is fundamental to Zimbabwe’s economic development. The country’s economy is projected to grow by 4,2 percent this year and 4,4 percent in 2020, underpinned by growth in the mining and agricultural sectors, along with fiscal consolidation efforts by the country’s treasury.
To help improve access to and reliability of power supply in the country, ZimFund Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project Phase II financed two new (175MVA and 90MVA) transformers, replacing very old transformers at Bulawayo’s Marvel and Gweru’s Chertsey substations, respectively.
Both transformers became faulty in 2005 and 2009 respectively, having been in operation way beyond their recommended 50-year lifespan. Installation of both transformers has been completed. Chertsey and Marvel substations supply power to critical institutions such as hospitals, schools and universities, water and sewage treatment plants, mines and other public facilities that cater for a population of over three million people, spread across the Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North, and Midlands provinces of Zimbabwe.
“Support from ZimFund and the Bank will greatly contribute towards the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC)’s vision to increase the rate of electrification in the country and achieve the 90 percent coverage in the near future. We are grateful for the huge investments that we have been getting over the years,” said ZETDC general manager for the southern region, Mr Lovemore Chinaka.
ZimFund is also financing the replacement of other transformers at Prince Edward Dam substation in Harare, which mainly supplies Prince Edward Waterworks and surrounding areas, Mutare’s Orange Grove substation and Kwekwe’s Sherwood substation. Works at Prince Edward are almost complete while others are due for completion early next year.
African Development Bank (AfDB) Southern Africa Group II executive director, Mr Heinrich M. Gaomab II, who was in the country recently and toured Marvel and Chertsey substations, commended the work done at these substations, stating that they provide a true development impact in Zimbabwe and relate strongly with the AfDB’s High Five priorities, particularly Light Up and Power Africa. He implored the beneficiaries to maintain the infrastructure investments.
ZimFund is a US$145 million water and sanitation and energy programme, which was established in 2010 after the 2008 cholera outbreak. Its donors include Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ZimFund is managed by the African Development Bank as part of its operations to improve quality of life in Zimbabwe.
Under the energy sector, the AfDB is financing the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation and Alaska-Karoi Transmission Line projects. Other projects under the bank’s consideration include the Tokwe to Masvingo transmission line, the North-East Network Rehabilitation project and Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia Interconnector (ZIZABONA) project, which is critical to the Southern Africa regional grid.
These are key in achieving the AfDB’s High Five priority actions which are Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa, Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. These power projects also significantly contribute towards the attainment of the global agenda – Sustainable Development Goal 7 – that seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
The AfDB also supports Zimbabwe in the agriculture, transport, water and sanitation, institutional development and capacity building, humanitarian, social and financial services sectors.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ZimFund donors, the African Development Bank, its board of directors or the countries they represent.