30 January 2014

Zimbabwe: U.S $400 Million Solar Project On Cards

Defemme Afrique Holdings is finalising legal documentation for the construction of a US$400 million solar energy plant with a capacity to generate 2 500 megawatts, the Financial Gazette's Company & Markets was informed last Friday. Defemme Afrique is a joint venture between De Opper Trading and Green Rhino Energy, a power firm run by German solar experts.

The US$400 million project has enough capacity to meet the country's power demand, which stands a 2 200MW.

However, the country power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) is producing a mere 1 000MW.

A report from the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), shows that Kariba remains the main source with 37,28 per cent, followed by Hwange with 28.67 per cent, Munyati at 1,44 percent, Bulawayo 1,24 percent, and Harare a mere 0,46 percent.

That leaves the remaining imported energy at 13.22 per cent of total supplies.

However, the $400m solar energy will curb the country's imminent power shortages once in motion.

Chief executive officer, Francis Gogwe, said Defemme Afrique would invest US$5,2 million for the first phase while US$50 billion would be injected over 10 years for the entire project.

He revealed that the project would commence once they finalise the paperwork with government.

Gogwe said a farm in Marondera was identified for the project but they were waiting for the approval from the Lands Ministry.

"We have done our part, our consultants have been on the ground and waiting for the finalisation of the required paperwork. We are still waiting for the allocation of the land. The land was identified a year ago by the Marondera Lands Committee. They gave us confirmation letters but we are still waiting for the approval from the ministry," said Gogwe.

"Once that is complete, we will then engage Zera (Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority) for the licensing of the project. By next week (this week), the project will be at an advanced stage and we will be in a position to know when construction can take off," said Gogwe.

Green Rhino Energy Managing Director Joachim Baumgaertner said his company was pleased with their partnership with De Opper Trading and expressed hope that the project would go a long way in helping Zimbabwe overcome power shortages.

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