By KAPALA CHISUNKA
AN estimated US$1.1 billion is needed to increase rural electricity access rate to 51 percent by 2030, deputy minister of Energy and Water Development Charles Zulu has said.
Mr Zulu said to reach the target, Government put in place institutional arrangements for the effective, transparent and accountable implementation of the rural electrification programme which led to the establishment of the Rural Electrification Authority (REA).
Speaking at the launch of the REA media awards in Lusaka on Friday, Mr Zulu said the media will play a critical role in raising the profile of REA and its mandate to electrify the rural community.
â€œThe media is one of the most significant and powerful tools of communication that influences public opinion and fosters attitude change. And therefore has potential to disseminate information on REA so people can understand and appreciate Governmentâ€™s efforts to electrify rural areas in Zambia,â€ he said.
Mr Zulu said the current access rate to electricity in rural Zambia according to the living conditions and monitoring survey report for 2006-2010 is at 4.5 percent for grid extension and 4.5 percent for other sources such as energy.
â€œThe objective of the media awards therefore is to motivate the media to highlight rural electrification issues to all stakeholders so as to mobilise participation and support from private, public and development partners,â€ he said.
Earlier, REA chief executive officer Geoffrey Musonda said the awards are aimed at promoting brilliant and inspiring creative media ideas.
Mr Musonda said the awards will recognise the growing diversity of media thinking and reward where the media has made real difference.
â€œSince REA has a new strategic focus owing to the new 2014-2018 strategic plan, we are on an ambitious plan to implement the rural electrification programme to our mandate. To achieve this, REA needs a continued working partnership with media institutions,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation acting director-general Kenneth Maduma commended REA for creating a platform for the media to compete.
Mr Maduma, however, urged journalists to be factual and accurate when carrying out their work so as not to mislead the public.
â€œThis also applies to how journalists are reporting on the Ebola virus disease. Let us avoid publishing alarming stories on Ebola. Let us research and get factual and accurate information all the time,â€ he said.
By KAPALA CHISUNKA