Exploring benefits of powering rural areas
Published On January 28, 2014 » 3042 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Business, Columns
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SMEs cornerTODAY we want to focus on the importance of electricity to Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Zambia.
To do that we will feature an article by my colleague NAKUBIANA SHABONGO who recently visited Chibombo District.

According to her the efforts of Government to take electricity to the rural areas have benefitted citizens especially those engaged in small- scale businesses.One such beneficiary is Vesto Simfukwe.
Simfukwe is a tailor of Shimukuni in Chibombo who started his business in 2006 with a paltry K100 that he saved from his previous job.
Today, Simfukwe has more than K40,000 in his bank account from his business which he says produces 30 pieces of clothing on a daily basis thanks to the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) which has enabled him to have access to electricity.
This is just but one success story which a REA entourage that included some heads of foreign diplomatic missions accredited to Zambia heard when they carried out a field visit to Shimukuni Four Ways in Chibombo District.
The Shimukuni Grid Extension Project was commissioned in August 2009 at the cost of K2.6 million and was handed over to Zesco Limited for operation and maintenance.
Mr Simfukwe and other residents of the area have greatly benefited from the electrification of the area by REA.
This has also made improvements in the socio-economic sector in the area arising from the electricity infrustracture development.
He said in Shimukuni that the programme had stimulated his business as it was performing well.
He said his business had expanded as he was now a proprietor of three entities consisting of a grocery, tailoring shop and farming.
He said the income he gets from all his businesses goes back to his tailoring business which is his main venture.
Mr Simfukwe was initially working for another person in Lusaka’s Mandevu Township but in 2006 decided to establish his own business in Chibombo.
Currently, he makes 30 pieces of clothes per day with the use of power while without it he can only manage to sew 20 pieces.
He has appealed to the banks to give him a loan that would enable him buy an over-locking sewing machine in an effort to grow his business further.
It is pleasing that the electrification of rural areas has positively contributed towards the business community as it assisted Mr Simfukwe grow his entities.
Evidently, there is a lot of economic development that is taking place in Chibombo District and a number of sectors had improved hence contributing to the country’s economic growth.
“It is really amazing how the installation of electricity in the rural areas has changed people’s lives and we came back here to see whether the resources were put to good use and it is a clear picture that they were.
“Sweden also has remote areas which makes me understand that communication contributes to development and electricity can facilitate this, that is why my country has for a long time supported Zambia in the energy sector as the two countries were faced with the same challenges,” she said.
The REA projects are making a difference by uplifting the standards of living for the people in the Chibombo especially small-time business men and women.
Clearly, education is not the only key to success as people climb the ladder in various ways and make it in life.
There are other factors.
Electricity is an integral utility in modern society, with links to everything from a human’s subconscious fear of the dark to the practical need for working illumination in an industrialised world.
The entire world essentially runs on electricity, in one form or another, and while combustibles are essential at the present time as well, their time is nearing an end.
From the story of Mr Simfukwe, it is clear that rural areas badly needs to be put on the national electricity grid so that rural dwellers can recharge their development agenda.
That is even more prudent considering that Government has been urging small-scale farmers who make the bulk of rural settlements to diversify from cultivating the traditional maize to other cash crops.
Fish farming and chicken rearing are other examples of what the rural communities could venture into.
This goes to stress how important electricity is away from the line of rail as much as in urban set- ups.

Comments: 0950458228 or wklpublications699@gmail.com

 

Comments: 0950458228 or wklpublications699@gmail.com

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