Residents of Ivilivinzi, which is situated about 90 km east of Katima Mulilo in the flood-prone Kabbe South Constituency of the Zambezi Region, were in joyous mood on Tuesday when – for the first time since Namibia attained its independence – they were able to switch on the electricity.
Previously Ivilivinzi residents relied on candles to light their huts and depended on firewood to prepare their food. In dire instances they rely on dried cowdung for fuel.
The project was commissioned by the Zambezi Regional Council and cost government about N$6 million. The work was done by Power Technology that started installing a power line from Nakabolelwa to Ivilivinzi in July last year. The project was due to be completed by November last year, but due to various challenges, including transport problems, it became difficult to access the area at the start of the rainy season.
Given its geographic location the area becomes difficult to access in the rainy season, as the roads become muddy and vehicles transporting heavy materials find it difficult to pass through.
However, the installation was eventually completed and the lights were recently switched on. Apart from streetlights installed at three villages in the vicinity of Ivilivinzi, about 65 houses were electrified.
The residents could barely contain their excitement. “Personally I’m very happy that electricity has come to our village. Now I can start a bakery project. This is indeed a relief to me,” said Lumba Kulatau, a resident of Ivilivinzi.
“We’re very happy that we now have electricity. Let this project continue in other areas. Before we used to suffer, as this area is situated in the plain, where we have to struggle to get firewood, especially when it rains. We used to struggle to cook food, but now that will be something of the past,” enthused another resident, Royd Kwalela.
However, not everyone was in joyous mood. Principal of Ivilivinzi Primary School Kasalaza Sinengela was sorely disappointed that the school was not connected to the grid: “Everybody is happy because of the electricity, but I’m not entirely happy, even though teachers’ houses got connected, for some reasons that I don’t know the school was left out.”
Upon enquiry this reporter was informed that the school was not left out entirely. It was not connected due to a communication breakdown, but will soon be, as a transmitter was also installed.
“This block is new as it was recently constructed, but the wiring and putting in of bulbs were not done. However, this will be sorted out soon, as electrifying schools is our top priority,” said Councillor of Kabbe South John Likando, who previously served as mayor of Katima Mulilo.
New Era understands this is just the beginning of the project, as Phase 2 – which has already gone to tender – aims to connect other flood-prone areas, such as Mbalasinte and Kasika to the national grid. Phase 3 will cross over to Impalila Island, which is the ultimate objective.
Impalila Island is considered one of the most important areas in the Zambezi Region, as it is home to a mini State House, Home Affairs office, military and police stations, a combined school and health centre.
All these institutions currently rely on solar panels for power, but the Zambezi Regional Council has made it a priority to provide electricity to the area.