Story by Providence Maraneli
THE people of Beitbridge West are already enjoying the benefits of the government’s rural industrialisation drive following the electrification of the area by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
Walking in Beitbridge West, it is midday and the scorching heat has everyone under the tree shade.
At Dendele business centre, some 60km off the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway towards the Limpopo River, an elderly drinking team is cooling itself with some cold drinks bought from one, Ms Netsai Banda’s shop.
Ms Netsai is one of the beneficiaries of the rural electrification programme that has connected four schools, a clinic and two business centres in the Whunga area of Beitbridge West.
“Life has changed, it will never be the same again, our businesses have been transformed, now I can order drinks and beer and people will buy because they will be cold. We are so grateful,” noted Ms Banda who could not hide her joy.
“We are so delighted by this project, now we have electricity, we never dreamt of this,” said a smiling resident.
“Now even our clinic has power,” noted an elderly man.
Across the bridge at Malikuwa School, life will never be the same for teachers, parents and learners.
“Our children can now learn computers and science subjects are going to be taught. We are so grateful,” noted a delighted parent.
“Even teachers will now stay at our school,” added another.
“We are grateful to the government we are going to be equal to those learning in town, we are so delighted, we can now read even at night,” a student confidently asserted.
The local leadership is convinced that the electrification of critical infrastructure in the once-marginalised communities has set the villagers on the path to transformation.
“As Matabeleland South Province we appreciate the effort being made by the government in uplifting the standards of living in our rural communities through the provision of energy infrastructure,” stated the Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Honourable Abedinico Ncube.
Meanwhile, Rural Electrification Agency Board Chairperson, Mr William Chiwewe noted, “We know the majority of our people live in the rural areas and we are committed to changing their lives through the provision of electricity, which in turn propels rural development.”
With the government has embarked on the rural transformation strategy, the electrification of these communities will be a catalyst for rural industrialisation and the 33kv line stretching for 26km in the peripheries of Beitbridge proves the government’s seriousness towards the cause.
“My ministry is expected to play a key role in the attainment of our national vision through the provision of adequate energy services which is a pre-requisite for achieving the desired socio-economic development and growth in both urban and rural areas,” asserted the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Honourable Soda Zhemu.
The project, implemented at the cost of over US$400 000 has seen Whunga primary, Madali primary and Dendele primary schools; Malikuwa Secondary School, Whunga Clinic, Dombolidenje and Dendele business centres being connected to the national grid.