The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has disclosed that plans were underway to connect Shangombo and Sioma districts in Western province to the national electricity grid.
REA Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Musonda, said in a statement to ZANIS in Lusaka today that the authority was plans to undertake the construction of a 240 kilometre grid extension project that will connect the two districts to the national electricity grid at a cost of KR 70 million.
Mr. Musonda said REA has since requested for additional funding from the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development.
He said the move was in line with the authority’s mandate and its efforts to electrify the newly designated districts in the country.
Mr. Musonda noted that the authority has already concluded a pre-feasibility study for the Shangombo and Sioma rural electrification project.
He explained that electricity will be supplied to Shangombo by teeing-off from the existing 66 kilovolts (66kV) power line which runs from Victoria Falls power station in Livingstone to Mongu through Senanga.
Mr. Musonda added that the authority was also planning to construct a 55 kilometre overhead line from the teeing-off point to Matebele where a 66/33 kilovolts Substation will be set up.
He noted that the purpose of the substation was to introduce 33 kilovolts (33kV) distribution network for the schools and health centres along the route to Shangombo.
Mr. Musonda explained that from the substation at Matebele, the authority will also construct another 140 kilometres of 33 kilovolts (33kv) overhead line to Shagombo district.
He disclosed that the immediate beneficiaries of the power line from Matebele to Shangombo will be Nzilu middle basic school and Nalwashi, Mengo , Ngandwe, Beshe, Mulangu and Libala basic schools.
Others include Matunda, Siwelewele, State Ranch and Mbowa basic schools as well as Natukoma Center where there is a rural health centre, police post, a school, an agriculture centre and a local court.
And Mr. Musonda has said Sioma district will be connected by constructing a 45 kilometres overhead line of 33 kilovolts (33kV) from Matebele to Sioma.
He said the power line from Matebele to Sioma district will benefit Nakambuzi primary school and Nangweshi Center which includes Nangweshi boarding school, Nangweshi trading centre, Nangweshi basic school and a health centre.
Currently, about 75 percent of the Zambian population has no access to electricity but government plans to have the entire country connected to the national electricity grid by the year 2030.
However, the national power utility company, Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), is working towards improving the power demand through constructing more power stations.
It is planning to invest about US$3.7 billion on assets and infrastructure this year and $26.4 billion in the next five years.
Currently, ZESCO, which has since proposed to increase electricity tariffs by 26 per cent, is rationing power supply because there is a shortfall of 165 mega watts between 18:00hrs and 20:00hrs when it is peak hour for electricity users in the country.