Since the formation of REF in 2002, progress has been achieved in the provision of energy (both grid and other renewable energy technologies) in rural Zimbabwe. Energy has greatly improved life styles of villagers who now enjoy many advantages at their homes, businesses, farms and other enterprises. Equally excited are teachers and nurses who are using computers and modern equipment in schools and health centres respectively.
A good number of smallholder farmers have benefited from electricity and are irrigating their fields while rural entrepreneurs have diversified business ventures after benefiting from electricity.
There is now a hive of activity at electrified rural growth points and business centres in the country. Many business centres are fast growing after benefiting from electricity and better services are being offered to communities.
The table below shows national statistics of rural institutions electrified directly by the Rural Electrification Fund. A total of 9954 projects have been electrified to date.
Cost Effective Energy Technologies
REF has embarked on research and development of renewable energy and other cost effective technologies for use in all the rural areas of Zimbabwe to complement the conventional grid electricity.
To this end REF has adopted a solar mini grid system that generates conventional electricity enough to power a school, a rural health centre or a small to medium irrigation scheme in addition to homesteads The Fund also provides services and consultancy for the designs and installations of mini, macro and micro grid solar systems in line with the requirements of individual beneficiaries
REF has since installed mini grid solar systems to about 424 rural public institutions that include both primary and secondary schools, rural health centres, chiefs’ homesteads and some government extension offices. An additional 437 mobile solar systems have been distributed countrywide benefiting satellite schools, police posts and bases,
Biogas Energy Projects
Under its renewable and sustainable energy for Zimbabwe portfolio, the Rural Electrification Fund has introduced biogas energy to complement grid and solar technologies in order to meet basic energy needs at household level.
Biogas is a low cost clean energy produced from livestock manures and household organic waste. It is accessible to all types of users for varied purposes in domestic, agricultural and industrial uses, at both large and small scale.
Biogas energy can be used for cooking, lighting and powering small power generators.
Benefits Of Biogas Energy Production Among Others Include:
Reliable alternative low cost energy to unsustainable firewood
Reduction of Greenhouse gas emissions
Improves groundwater protection
Produces odourless organic fertilizer for agricultural use
Household energy requirements e.g. lighting, cooking, water pumping, etc
Since the launch of biogas energy in 2012 REF has built 81 institutional biogas digesters in the country mainly at boarding schools, prisons and mission hospitals where waste is readily available. REF also provides services and consultancy for the designs of biogas digesters to other customers like those in farming communities and villages. In addition, REF is conducting training of biogas builders in communities to allow many villagers to take up the technology. To date up to 206 builders have been trained.
Micro/ Mini Hydro
REF is seriously looking into developing mini and micro hydro projects. The Fund had partnered with a non-governmental organization “Practical Action’’ which has since developed the Chipendeke stand-alone mini hydro station at Chitora river in Zimunya communal area.
Possible areas identified by REF for similar mini hydro projects are Nyamwanga, Himalaya and Dendeure in the eastern highlands. Another being assessed for potential for a standalone mini hydro is Ruti Dam which covers an area between Buhera and Gutu districts.