Half of SADC population using open fires to prepare meals – Energy Minister

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

The energy sector is undoubtedly the key enabler of economic development in the region, Energy Minister Fortune Chasi has said.

“Any slackening in the provision of power and petroleum products or services will result in stagnation or regression in the region’s economy.

“The region thrives on its historical dependence on each other to the extent that any energy challenge or success in one country will naturally spill over into the neighbouring state and eventually the entire region.”

Officially opening the Regional Energy Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA) annual general meeting and conference at Elephant Hills in Victoria Falls this past week, Chasi said half the population in the SADC region still cooked and heated their homes using open fire.

“Currently, the average electricity access in the region stands at 48% with the rural areas being at 32%,” he said.

“There are close to 50% of our people in this region who still cook and heat their homes using open fires that burn wood, animal dung or coal.

“To also imagine that there are some communities who travel many kilometres to fill up their cars or gas cylinders is also difficult to comprehend.

“We need to demonstrate the region’s commitment to increasing access to modern energy by stimulating investment in every part of the country and region. We are advocating for a just energy transition where no-one should be left behind.”

He added, “My challenge to you is that you engage as regional energy experts to find solutions to our regional supply challenges not to excel in lamentations. For our investors, these challenges present huge opportunities.”

The Energy Minister said Zimbabwe was experiencing energy challenges though the government has since devised coping mechanisms.