Namibia: Windhoek Plans N$420m Solar Plants

The Windhoek municipality plans to develop and install five solar power plants that could cost more than N$420 million over the next three years.

Documents obtained from Windhoek's monthly council meeting last week show that the municipality plans to develop five solar power plants on the southern borders of Cimbebasia, along the B1 road to Rehoboth.

The proposed project is part of the municipality's renewable energy policy.

The municipality intends to implement this project through a public-private partnership (PPP), according to documents.

Each of the five solar power plants would generate 5MW.

Windhoek municipality's spokesperson, Harold Akwenye, told The Namibian last week that each of the five solar power plants is estimated to cost about N$85 million, taking the total cost of the project to more than N$420 million.

The documents further show that the procurement unit has approved the feasibility study for this proposed project and has requested the municipality to call for expression of interest from companies interested in partnerings with it.

However, there appears to be a disagreement between the municipality and the procurement unit regarding the size and scope of the project.

According to the documents, the procurement unit wants the municipality to develop one big solar power plant, which would generate the 25MW needed.

The unit motivated that the single plant would "deliver a more economical and attractive offer to the city as a whole", as opposed to the five 5MW plants preferred by the municipality.

The municipality, according to documents, fears that the "market-sounding" 25MW plant preferred by the procurement unit could "expose council to possible litigation".

The documents do not explain what the "possible litigation" entails.

There is no indication how much it would cost if the municipality follows the procurement unit's advice to develop a single 25MW solar plant.

Finance ministry's spokesperson, Tonateni Shidhudhu, this week refused to comment on the disagreement between the municipality and the procurement unit.

"It would [be] premature to comment on this matter at this stage. We are still finalising the procurement documents with the City of Windhoek that will be published when the time is right," Shidhudhu said.

The municipality was, therefore, told by the procurement unit to advertise its intentions to partner with private companies on the project before it goes for procurement, the documents show.

At a monthly meeting last week, the Windhoek municipal council recommended that the municipality invite project offers and that the procurement committee be appointed in terms of the PPP law. "With assistance from the municipality's procurement unit, be permitted to advertise the expression of interests" for this project, the council recommended.

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