Blessing Bonga Business Reporter
Eastway (Pvt) Limited, a subsidiary of Twalumba Holdings, has signed a US$1,6 billion deal with Thompson Cole Consortium, a UK-based firm, for the construction of solar power generation plants in the country’s eight rural provinces. Work on the project would be done through two subsidiaries of Thompson Cole Consortium – Sun Gen of China and Belm Am of UK. Sun Gen has vast experience in solar power plant technology while Bel Am is the financing arm of the project.
Speaking at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding in Harare yesterday, Twalumba Holdings executive chairman Dr Nkululeko Sibanda said the deal would complement Government efforts in ensuring the country generated enough power to resuscitate industry while also empowering rural communities through industrialisation.
“After protracted negotiations since the beginning of the year, I am happy that today (yesterday) we have finally signed the deal.
“We have deliberately targeted rural provinces as these have large acres of space to house solar power plants while we also want to ensure that we mitigate rural to urban migration by ensuring industries in those areas are fully functional by having access to reliable power,” he said.
Dr Sibanda added that once the new Government gets down to work, the project is likely to commence as they will be able to work with the relevant Government departments to ensure speedy implementation of the project.
Dr Sibanda said the deal was a response to President Mugabe’s call to empower communities and create employment.
Thompson Cole director Africa business unit Mr Alexander Donald Mcllwain said Sun Gen has worked in a number of solar projects in Germany, Spain, Italy and many other countries and expressed satisfaction with the climatic conditions in Zimbabwe describing them as conducive for tapping into solar energy.
“Zimbabwe has one of the best climatic conditions suitable for tapping into solar energy and we are going to work flat out to ensure you can be able to fully harness and benefit from solar energy,” he said.
Mr Mcllwain added that each of the eight solar power plants to be constructed would cover a space of 1,8km by 1km while generating 75 megawatts of electricity that is able to cater for about 50 000 households.
A solar energy station costs around US$200 million and takes about 15 months to complete.