Zimbabwe: Solar for Municipality's District Offices

All Harare City Council district offices will soon be using solar power in a move intended to reduce the local authority's electricity bill.

A $5 million supplementary budget to finance the installation of solar systems at district offices was proposed by the Education, Health, Housing, Community Services and Licensing Committee during a recent meeting.

District offices are responsible for the day-to-day coordination and monitoring of all decentralised service delivery activities and revenue collection.

The move was mooted before the lockdown, when the city was experiencing serious power shortages that resulted in Zesa introducing load shedding of up to 18 hours per day.

Harare has 27 district offices in its 46 wards with 18 of the offices in high density suburbs, while nine are in low density suburbs. "The director of housing and community services reported that council at a revenue generating meeting, decided to install solar panels at all district offices upon approval of a $5 million supplementary budget to enhance service delivery and revenue generation and collection," read the minutes.

"Availability of electricity is key to enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness at district offices. Moreover, council was moving from paper-based information dissemination to an electronic system and this could only be achievable by the availability of electricity at district offices."

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba yesterday said solar energy remained the most viable and sustainable solution to erratic power supply. "The City of Harare by now should have invested in the renewable energy sector without having to wait for a crisis to first affect them. A prudent institution should embrace new technologies, firstly on a pilot phase before expanding it to all their divisions.

"They could also use their farms to establish a solar energy plant that can significantly contribute to energy supplies for council operations. It is a most welcome development. It should not remain on paper," he said.

Mr Shumba urged council to quickly implement and reap the benefits of renewable energy.

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