23 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Local Firms to Attend Energy Indaba

ZIMBABWE will get an opportunity to attract foreign direct investment into the energy sector when local firms participate at the Africa energy indaba scheduled to take place in South Africa next year.

The Zimbabwe Energy Council is already working on facilitating the participation of local companies in the indaba to be held from February 19 to 21.

South African company, Siyenza Management, convenes the energy indaba on an annual basis to bring together players, financiers and investors in the energy industry.

FDI into the energy sector, especially power generation, would positively impact the local economy as the country is facing choking power deficit.

ZEC executive director Mr Panganai Sithole said the Zimbabwe Power Company, Zesa's generation unit had already indicated its willingness to participate at the Indaba to seek investment for its expansion projects.

"We believe that Zimbabwe, both the parastatals and private energy players should take advantage of this," he said.

Mr Sithole said ZEC was working to ensure independent power producers also participate at the indaba.

Zimbabwe faces critical power supply shortage and can only generate an average of 1 400 megawatts against national demand of 2 200MW at peak demand.

The country requires more than US$1,2 billion for the expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station for an additional 300MW and Hwange thermal Power Plant, which would add 920MW to the national grid.

After resolving longstanding differences with Zambia over sharing of the Ex-Capco assets, Zimbabwe is also pushing for development of a hydropower plant at Batoka Gorge to produce about 820MW.

Siyenza Management managing director Ms Liz Hart said the Energy Indaba was aimed at creating links between entities in the sector to build the Zimbabwe energy industry.

"In essence, what we are trying to do is create a platform where Zimbabwean companies can benefit from the networking that will occur at the event," she said.

"We will attract a lot of senior decision makers attending from the financial services sector and foreign donor funding and funders. There are a lot of different entities there and for Zimbabwean companies it is a great platform to meet these people.

"We will also have discussions with them and see how we can build the Zimbabwe energy sector," said Ms Hart.

Zimbabwe has no capacity to invest in infrastructure considering Finance Minister Tendai Biti US$3,8 billion Budget that will largely cover consumptive expenditure, especially Government staff costs.

The Indaba was started six years ago focusing on South Africa, which was experiencing critical power shortage.

But after a close analysis of the challenge across the continent Siyenza Management realised that there was no event aimed at addressing the issue of power shortage in Africa.

As such, the company engaged the South African Energy Association, the energy council, Nepad and the African Union to devise solutions to Africa's energy crisis.

But the energy Indaba is aimed at finding ways of ensuring that rural and remote areas get access to power while also facilitating access to power by corporates.

"So we will have a whole session focusing on rural energy development across Africa and then looking at medium and large size business to see how we can provide them with security of supply of power and what sort of tariff will be coming through," Ms Hart said.

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