Zimbabwe: Govt, World Bank in Solar Energy Pact

27 January 2020

Government, in partnership with the World Bank, plans to introduce a competitive programme for procuring large-scale photovoltaic solar power gadgets under the recently completed National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP), to boost availability of power in the country.

The NREP focuses on the energy needs of the country from renewable resources and is aiming at securing Zimbabwe's long-term energy supply needs in a sustainable way.

Zimbabwe is battling power shortages resulting in households and some companies going for over 10 hours a day without electricity.

Zimbabwe requires about 1 800MW during peak periods, but power generation is averaging 700MW due to low water levels in Kariba Dam.

Hwange Power Station's capacity is also constrained due to old equipment.

Zimbabwe is bridging the power supply deficit with imports from the region. However, this is no longer reliable as the regional utilities are also facing their own internal supply challenges.

Shortage of foreign currency is also presenting its own fair share of constraints in importing electricity.

In a statement last week, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) -- which is a member of the World Bank Group headquartered in Washington, D.C, the United States -- said solar plants will be developed under public-private partnership.

The facilities will be developed under the World Bank's Scaling Solar programme, and are expected to contribute to Zimbabwe's plan to generate 400MW of solar by 2030.

"The Government of Zimbabwe and World Bank private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have signed an agreement for two large-scale solar projects, with a combined generation capacity of 60MW.

"Under the agreement, Zimbabwe and World Bank, the scaling-up of solar projects will support the development, tendering and financing of two utility projects in the country," reads the statement.

A lot of African countries have joined the World Bank's solar programme.

The multilateral lender has opened a tender on the African Power Platform for experts to advise the governments on a procurement programme, with an emphasis on generation asset planning.

The scope of work includes grid flexibility analysis, demand and generation forecasts, committed generation, and domestic resources assessment.

Last week, former Eskom CEO Engineer Matshela Koko said integrated electricity planning had been lacking in Zimbabwe.

"With this development, Government is sending a clear signal that it takes electricity security seriously and this security of electricity supply must come at a cost and pace that the people of Zimbabwe can afford.

"The involvement of the World Bank is extremely positive. I see this development as the beginning of big solar projects in Zimbabwe," he said.

He said 39 solar power projects with a generation capacity of 1 050MW have secured Government approval in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has cancelled seven independent power producers' (IPPs) licences after they failed to kick-start their projects as agreed.

In September last year, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IBDZ) issued a request for proposals seeking partners for the construction of seven solar parks with a generation capacity of 235MW and two mini-hydro power plants.

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