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Partners give REA firm plegde for assistance

DEVELOPMENT partners have expressed commitment to continue supporting the country’s energy sector through projects implemented by the Rural Energy Agency (REA).

Briefing reporters on the resolutions reached during the bi-annual general meeting between the agency and representatives of the development partners known as Energy Development Partners Group here over the weekend, REA Board Chairman Julius Kalolo said many exciting agreements were reached.

He said the development partners were happy on how REA is progressing in the rural electrification programme and have asked it to submit new financial proposals and critical areas that need to be funded by the donor community.

“We had fruitful deliberations with the donor community and they have asked us to submit our needs by 10th December this year for forwarding to their countries for considerations,” said Mr Kalolo.

He mentioned critical areas in urgent need of more support as including power supply in off grid areas and isolated areas like islands as well as technical capacities in sensitive areas like procurement, Information Technology (IT) and tendering processes.

Mr Kalolo also mentioned other areas of consideration that might attract funding from the donor community as ongoing implementation of REA phase III by 2020/2021which targets to supply electricity to more than 12,000 villages countrywide and an ambitious supply of power to all households by 2025.

He did not mention actual funding needed to accomplish all the tasks come 2025 but Mr Kalolo was optimistic that donors would be ready to inject more funds depending on good progress of the ongoing programmes that are on the right track.

Another critical area that donors have committed themselves to support was ensuring that women in villages are relieved of using firewood and charcoal, and switch to alternative, safe and friendlier energy alternatives.

However, according to Mr Kalolo, the donor community was not upset by tariffs being charged by some independent power producers to consumers, proposing that more administrative and technical actions should be to make sure they produce affordable energies.

REA Acting Director General Eng Amos Maganga said the implementation of rural electrification was very expensive citing REA III that will cost around 1.2trl/- to connect 3500 villages alone.

He said over 40,000 km will be covered to connect all villages in REA III with each km feasting more than 50m/- which calls for huge funding.

“We are expecting more funding from the partners who are ready to dish out concessional loans for the cause and will persuade their countries and institutions to act accordingly beyond 2020/21,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of Development Partners, an official from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) Mr Stephen Mwakifamba said overall donors were satisfied with the country’s good work in power projects and affirmed readiness to dish out more funds.

He said donors interest was seeing cheaper and accessible energy particularly to the rural and hard to reach areas which was visibly seen through the ongoing programmes notably REA phase III.

Over the last ten years, 14 donors forming the Energy Development Partners Group have contributed over 2trl/- between 2008 and 2019 for projects implemented by REA and TANESCO countrywide.

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Author: PIUS RUGONZIBWA in Mwanza

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