TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT is in the process of restructuring and allowing the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) to partner with the private sector to establish off-grid power connections.
Ministry of Energy David Mabumba said the restructuring process will only be undertaken once the matter is tabled before Cabinet and approved by the relevant authority.
Mr Mabumba said this in parliament last week when Member of Parliament for Ikelengâ€™i Elija Muchima asked whether Government would prioritise electrifying of rural areas and allow REA to partner the private sector.
â€œWe are going to reposition the operation of REA and allow it to partner with the private sector on implementing off-grid power in rural areas, which is subject to approval. This will enable REA to connect more areas to power and in turn assist them to develop economically,â€ Mr Mabumba said.
He said electricity remains critical for the country to attain the growth trajectory and socio-economic transformation of the fast-growing population, particularly rural areas, and ensure that it provides electricity infrastructure to all rural areas for increased access to electricity.
Mr Mabumba said REA is providing electricity infrastructure to the whole nation by targeting rural communities so that they are connected to power as well.
He said it is critical that the authority identifies various technologies that can be tapped to improve the standard of living of the rural population through partnerships.
The minister also said Government will allocate more money to REA in the 2018 national budget.
â€œAs part of the restructuring progress, we are going to increase the budgetary allocation to the authority [REA], and reposition its mandate as well as opening up its operations,â€ he siad.