Michael Tome and Munashe Matambo Business Reporters
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is seeking licence to set up a 0,45 megawatt rooftop solar plant to power its Willowvale complex. The complex houses the firm’s main switches and network equipment.
This is part of the company’s host of measures to reduce electricity bills. The efforts are also meant to ensure uninterrupted network provision to the company’s subscribers in cases of load shedding. The equipment is currently supported by backup generators and the company intends to take advantage of Zimbabwe’s hot weather to install the solar power plant.
Econet media relations and analytics executive Fungai Mandiveyi, told The Herald Business in written responses that the move will guarantee continuous network availability to subscribers as well as lower the country’s electricity import bill.
“Solar energy is an alternative and affordable energy source that has motivated Econet to apply for a photo voltaic (PV) electricity generation licence. Electricity import comes at a huge cost to the nation as the imports require scarce foreign currency amid the prevailing currency challenges.
“We believe this is unsustainable, particularly with local industry consumption expected to rise in response to forecast economic improvement and so the outages may actually increase,” said Mr Mandiveyi. The construction of the plant is expected to start in the next three months as soon as the licence is granted.
“Once the licence is granted and the required foreign currency application is approved for the bill of quantities (PV panels, inverters and related equipment), we believe the construction work can start in three months,” he said.
Through its power distribution company, Distributed Power Africa (DPA), generation will be for own consumption whilst surplus will be fed into the proposed Highfield solar system substation. Mr Mandiveyi, however, indicated Econet’s long-term plans to venture into more PV electricity generation projects through DPA.
“Beyond Willowvale, the PV electricity generation license application is a long term project for which Econet aims to create cost — efficiencies for its own businesses and for businesses and industries in the entire economy to eventually changeover from the use of predominantly fossil fuel-generated power, to the use of more sustainable renewable, clean energy, at very affordable rates,” Mr Mandiveyi said.