Cletus Mushanawani and Joseph Madzimure
A 10 megawatt solar power station will be built in Zimbabwe before the end of next year at a cost of US$7 million by a leading German investor in renewable energy, Holtholding Group.
Holtholding Group, which has a presence in 46 countries across the world, has had a team in the country since last week to look at investment opportunities.
The team was yesterday taken by Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Germany, Ambassador Paul Chikawa, for a closed-door meeting with the President.
The company's co-director generals, Messrs Hendrik Holt and Heinz Luchterhand, emerged from the meeting to announce their decision to invest in renewable energy in Zimbabwe.
In an interview, Mr Holt said they were invited by Zimbabwe's Embassy in Germany to discover what the country had to offer in their line of business.
"We think there is great potential for investment in agricultural businesses, especially the energy business," he said.
"Zimbabwe has extraordinary potential to establish renewable energy projects for the population."
Mr Luchterhand said the company was looking initially at a 10-megawatt solar power station at a cost of US$7 million.
"The first project we think we will be doing is something like 10-megawatt which I think can be operational by the end of next year or even earlier," he said.
"One 10-megawatt project approximately costs US$7m. We are keen to do more and not just one project. We have to start from somewhere. It is important for the image of the country to show to other investors that this works.
"We come here from Germany to scout for investment opportunities because we have trust in the country, trust in the Government and trust in the people.
"Therefore, this is a good place to invest. That is the key thing, it is not only that we want to do business here, we also want to help Zimbabwe to improve its image in the world."
Since 2010, the Holtholding Group has been developing sustainable and regionally oriented solutions in the field of renewable energies.
The firm's core competence is the configuration, technical and commercial development, and company management of wind and solar parks for energy transition.
"We are a business that is internationally active in wind and solar energy. So this is our prime objective and we seek opportunities in the world where others are not yet there," Mr Luchterhand said.
"There is no question that Zimbabwe has moved from its past. Now we see an opportunity to come here to be one of the first investors and provide the people of Zimbabwe with more electric energy.
"You have the sun and a lot of renewable resources. There is no need to import energy."
Mr Luchterhand said the company would be carrying out feasibility studies in the shortest possible future.
"This is the first time for us to come here," he said. "We have to carry out the feasibility studies as soon as possible. We have had meetings with lawyers for the structural set up and we will have to make technical studies as well."
The coming in of German investors is part of the Government's commercial diplomacy initiative where diplomats serving in foreign missions are now having their performances measured in line with the country's goal to facilitate the growth of national exports of goods and services by at least 10 percent annually to US$14 billion by 2030.
Last year, the President launched the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy Vision and Export Promotion Strategy which seeks to contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030 goals.
The National Trade Policy's strategic goal is to facilitate the growth of national exports of goods and services by at least 10 percent annually from US$4,5 billion in 2018 to US$7 billion in 2023 and US$14 billion by 2030.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo recently said the Ministry now expects a shift of the mind-set of foreign service officers from just making political friends to making friends with an economic benefit to the country.
The latest development is also part of the fruits of President Mnangagwa's thrust that Zimbabwe is Open for Business.