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Bulawayo to get 100 MW solar plant

by Staff Reporter
28 Feb 2021 at 07:46hrs | Views
POWER generation in the country and more significantly in Bulawayo is set to increase after it has emerged that British investors have partnered a local company to set up solar fields that will generate 107 megawatts.

The development comes at a time when overall power generation in the country has gone up, while imports have been reduced, in addition to Government clearing debts with Eskom, the South African power utility.

Government officials told Sunday News of the ambitions power projects that are set to boost the country's capacity. Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Judith Ncube said the investors are visiting the country in the next three weeks where they are expected to start setting up three solar fields in the outskirts of the city that will generate 107 megawatts. Minister Ncube said the power generated from the solar fields will be able to sustain the city's power demands, while the surplus will be channelled into the national grid.

Without disclosing the names of the investors, Minister Ncube said the investors developed an interest in setting up solar fields in the country following her visit to UK to market the country's investment opportunities.

"Sometime in 2019, I assembled a team to go and visit UK mainly to market Bulawayo and the country at large.

When we got there we met a lot of investors including Zimbabweans in the UK. There were also British investors there. Most investors were mainly concerned with water supply and power generation. They asked us if we have a reliable water source and water supply system. They also asked if we had a reliable energy source, we then invited them over to explore investment opportunities in the country. I am glad that in the next three weeks we have investors coming from United Kingdom who have partnered with our local companies. We are going to have two fields that will be generating 50 megawatts each and the third one will generate 7 megawatts," she said.

Minister Ncube said the project will go a long way in addressing power challenges as well as creating employment in the city. She said the power generated will not only benefit Bulawayo but the country at large.

The country's power generation capacity rose to 1 200 MW against a national demand of 1 400 MW and the deficit is being imported from South Africa. The development will also bolster the province's gross domestic product (GDP).

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has cleared its debt with South African power utility Eskom Holdings. Energy and Power Development Minister Honourable Soda Zhemu told Sunday News that Zimbabwe only owed Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique although he could not provide the actual amount.

"There are false reports going around saying we owe Eskom a huge amount of money. All our accounts with Eskom are paid for, in accordance with our agreement with the power provider. Currently we only have unpaid debts with two power providers from Mozambique and not in South Africa. We cleared our debt and we do not owe Eskom. We are current with Eskom although we continue to import from them. We have a contract that once there is debt that is overdue, they automatically disconnect us," he said.

The country has now reduced electricity imports from 400 megawatts (MW) to between 150 MW to 200 MW after the local power generation capacity rose to 1 200 MW against a national demand of 1 400 MW. Eskom corroborated Minister Zhemu saying the country's books were up to date.

"Zimbabwe does not owe Eskom of South Africa anything for electricity supply, all their accounts are fully paid for," said Eskom.

Meanwhile, Minister Ncube said Bulawayo province has also invited a team of specialist doctors, mostly experts in heart problems in minors, from Namibia.

"We have a problem as the southern region, that is Bulawayo, Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South Provinces, we do not have specialist doctors who deal with heart problems in children. We have invited a team of specialists doctors from Namibia to come to Bulawayo to attend to patents in the city. The doctors will first assess our health care institutions so that they identify the one which they want to be operating from," she said.

Source - Sunday News

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