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HomeOpinionOPINION: Power To Empower: How Energy Projects Are Brightening Zimbabwe Economic Prospects

OPINION: Power To Empower: How Energy Projects Are Brightening Zimbabwe Economic Prospects

In today’s world, energy has revolutionized all of our lifestyles.  From the palm of our hands we have instruments more powerful than the largest and most sophisticated computers from just a few years ago.

By Professor Mthuli Ncube

Entrepreneurs and innovators have the ability to move from rags to riches today like never before.  And with Zimbabwe’s incredible human resource talent, pool of educated youth, and spirit of creativity, our innovation potential is boundless.  However, for this to be fulfilled we must empower Zimbabweans.  Quite literally, our towns and villages must be electrified into action; the people demand energy!

So as Government, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme has prioritised investments in power generation, transmission and distribution networks.  Our young programmers needs to keep their computers powered, our young designers need their sewing machines around the clock, and our young students need the lights on to succeed in their studies.  We are therefore working closely with the private sector to address all power outages across Zimbabwe which are undermining economic growth, social development, and have been holding us all back for far too long.

The Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme, a game changing project, is coming to life.  The updating of feasibility studies is now expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter this year, which will pave way for real resource mobilisation.  With investors lining up from across the globe for this exciting project; we expect significant progress in the coming weeks on the scheme.   Likewise, the Hwange 7 & 8 Expansion Project, comprising two units of 300MW each, at a cost of 1,5 billion US dollars, is underway.  The project is on schedule to be completed within 42 months from the start date of August 1, 2018.

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And across the land, we are witnessing a true diversity of projects.  We are working closely with our Indian counterparts to catalyse the long-stalled Bulawayo Thermal Power Station project. ZPC had secured a $87 million line of credit from Exim Bank of India back in 2015.  With additional credit now coming in from the Indian government, the EPC procurement  process is now underway in India with the Exim Bank of India pre-qualifying bidders, which will pave way for commencement of works.  Then there is the repowering of Harare Thermal Power Station, the Deka Water Pumping Project, the Gwanda Solar Project, as well as a plethora of mini-hydro plants which are springing up across the country.

We are breaking through bureaucratic barriers and antiquated protocols to kickstart these multi-faceted projects. But the power sources are not enough. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that transmission projects keep pace with the developments. We must bring energy to every corner of our blessed land.  There is no use producing the fruits, if they don’t reach the mouths they are grown to feed!

The ZIMFUND emergency power infrastructure rehabilitation project is already producing results.  The procurement process for installation of transformers at Sherwood and Orange Grove, as well as the construction of a dedicated transmission line to Gimboki waterworks has been completed with site handover scheduled to take place this month.

The Alaska-Karoi 132kV transmission line has received the $22 million grant necessary for its 85km route completion and is expected to be fully operational next year. Other transmission lines expected to be completed in the near future include Alaska-Karoi 132kV, Atlanta-Mutoko 132kV, Tugwi-Masvingo 132kV, the Horseshoe-Kanyemba 132kV, and of course the ZIZABONA.

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The ZIZABONA is the Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia transmission line which is being finalised for submission to AfDB; a regional solution to a regional problem.  Zimbabwe is an integral player in SADC, and we understand that the development and electrification of our economy cannot take place in a vacuum. We must work closely with our partners and neighbours to ensure optimal efficiency, optimal growth, and optimal prosperity.

And at home, we are already seeing results. Drawing from the Rural Electrification Fund, a total of 254 public institutions have recently been electrified.  In 2019, we have a duty to make sure that at least 519 targeted public institutions have the necessary access to the power they need to serve the people.

As the new Zimbabwe races ahead with its programme to restructure, reform and rebuild, we must at all times put the long-term growth potential of the Zimbabwe economy at the heart of our plans. And this means expediting power projects from North to South, East to West.  We have a duty to keep the lights on. We have a duty to power the homes, businesses and the factories of Zimbabwe.  There is no other way.

By investing in power for all the people, we will empower the nation of Zimbabwe for a brighter future for all.

Hon. Professor Mthuli Ncube is the Zimbabwe Minister of Finance and Economic development.



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