By Bulawayo Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has given Bulawayo City Council (BCC) the green light to set up a 50 megawatt solar farm at one of its dams in Esigodini, Matebeleland South.
The project will be a joint venture between the local authority and Williams Engineering.
Officials said the project is expected to create 200 jobs during construction and 40 jobs when complete.
The project is expected to provide uninterrupted power to Bulawayo industries in the designated Special Economic Zones.
Electricity generated from the project is also expected to address the perennial power challenges at the Bulawayo water pumping station.
Speaking during post-Cabinet briefing Tuesday Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa revealed the deal which involves a Build-Operate-Own-and Transfer arrangement over a concession period.
“Cabinet considered and approved the partnership between Bulawayo City Council and Williams Engineering, which will establish a 50 mega-watt photovoltaic (solar) power plant at Ncema Dam. The plant will provide dedicated power to Bulawayo industries in the designated Special Economic Zones and will provide an alternative revenue stream for Bulawayo City Council.
“The power plant will create 200 jobs during construction and 40 jobs during its operation,” said Mutsvangwa.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing severe load-shedding that has seen the nation going for uninterrupted 19 hours without electricity due to low water levels at Kariba Dam, the country’s major source of electricity among other factors.
Bulawayo deputy mayor, Mlandu Ncube, said as part of council’s efforts to alleviate the power crisis in the city, the local authority is also considering establishing solar farms at the city’s old filled-up cemeteries.
“Council has provided land for private players who want to invest in power. So far, we have identified two filled up cemeteries at number six and West Park which we have allocated to private investors to set up solar farms,” said the deputy mayor.
Through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera), government has licensed more than 100 independent power producers to generate clean energy such as gas, solar and hydro-electricity.
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By Bulawayo Correspondent