The government is still on track to meeting the target of installing electricity to all households by 2014, said President Jacob Zuma at the official launch of a R110-million electricity project in the rural area of Engcobo in the Eastern Cape last week.
Addressing about 10 000 people from surrounding areas in Engcobo, Zuma reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure that all communities, including households, clinics and schools have electricity by the year 2014.
“We are still on track to meet that target; one of the challenges in electrification projects over the last few years was that, only municipalities which were licensed to distribute electricity were allocated electrification funding.
“However, in order to increase the roll-out process, the Department of Energy initiated the “Turnkey” projects with the municipalities that are not licensed,” Zuma said.
Alternative “Turnkey” approach
The “Turnkey” approach is a recommended alternative to in-house electrification done by the municipalities or Eskom in the light of the pressures and limitations that these entities have.
Zuma also acknowledged that the electrification programme is currently faced with a huge backlog and most of the municipalities which are not licensed are in rural areas and are often faced with challenge of shortage of skills, especially technical skills, human resources and limited time to manage electrification projects.
“In light of the issues mentioned, the ‘Turnkey’ projects provide a solution to fast-tracking service delivery, and producing a good quality product that is produced by qualified and experienced experts in the field, while knowledge transfer is taking place in the municipality,” he explained.
Largest in the country
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said Engcobo was one of the areas that benefitted from such projects, noting that since Engcobo is not licensed to distribute electricity, the department assisted the municipality to bring electricity to its constituency.
“The Engcobo Municipality electrification project is the largest undertaken by the department in the country, the number of un-electrified households in Engcobo was about 11 500, and after July, another 5000 un-electrified households from the areas of Ntsika Yethu Municipality will be added to the list,” she said.
During the last two financial years, the government, through the Energy Department has spent R150-million to bring electricity in the region alone and this resulted in over 8 330 households receiving electricity.