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Let’s make Zim a renewable energy hub

Alpha Media Holdings hosted a renewable energy conference in Nyanga last month. Energy and Power Development minister Zhemu Soda presented the keynote address. Below is the minister’s speech:

It is my singular honour to extend a warm welcome to all delegates here present and all those joining us online. This international renewable conference of 2021 aptly titled “Positioning Zimbabwe as Africa’s Renewable Hub by 2030: Transitioning to a carbon free future”, aims to put Zimbabwe in the limelight for renewable energy development in a bid to transition to a green energy future.

I am informed that the conference is being attended by international and local companies, investors, industries, organisations and individuals that have sacrificed to be with us today on both physical and online platforms.

I implore you to feel at home, discuss the items on the agenda frankly and also enjoy Zimbabwe’s meals and cuisines. For those online, I hope the networks are stable and you can hear us clearly.

Nyanga is a safe haven for tourism with world class resorts that are nestled in the backdrop of beautiful scenery and nature. We are surrounded by stunning and breathtaking landscapes, and panoramic views epitomised by the renown Nyanga mountains in our immediate vicinity and the Vumba mountains barely 100km away. We also have breathtaking  spillways such as Mutarazi falls and many others. Diverse flora and fauna is also thriving in the nearby game reserve; I dare-say your visit to Nyanga and Zimbabwe would be incomplete without a firsthand encounter with these unique sights that adorn this country. Please carry the goodness of Zimbabwe wherever you go.

However, tourism is a side event after we have accomplished our mammoth task here. Our task is to discuss and deliberate on strategies and ways that will transform the renewable energy sector in this country. Our discourse will also highlight the untapped opportunities the country has for investment in the energy sector. I look forward to candid engagements between the private sector, development partners and government in order to build winning partnerships. I am informed the topics include:

  • Financing renewables,
  • Technology transfer,
  • Electric mobility, and
  • Policy, among others.

I also would like to see investors crafting sustainable business deals here in Nyanga.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country with an average electricity demand of 1 600 megawatts (MW) on the national grid against an average internal generation of about 1 300MW. Local power generation is largely by Zimbabwe Power Company’s Hwange coal thermal power plant, Kariba hydro-power plant, Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo small thermal power plants. Imports from neighbouring countries within the region are used to ameliorate the power deficit, especially during peak morning and evening periods.

The grid is also fed power generated from renewable energy sources mainly from independent power producers (IPPs). Currently, the various IPPs are generating and feeding about 140MW into the national grid. The sources of renewable energy used are mini-hydropower, solar and bagasse from sugar plantations in the south east of the country.

With vast renewable energy sources in the form of solar (both photovoltaic and thermal), biofuels, inland dams, perennial rivers, and various forms of biomass, Zimbabwe is poised to have a thriving renewable energy sector in the very near future.

His Excellency, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa has spoken of Vision 2030 which seeks to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle income. This will be achieved through a number of pillars contained in the National Development Strategy (NDS 1) which are:

1) Macro-economic stability and international re-engagement,

2) Inclusive growth,

3) Governance,

4) Inclusive economic growth

5) Social development, and cross cutting issues.

These key pillars will achieve economic growth through policy interventions and related increased investments in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, public infrastructure (transport and energy), improved service delivery in education and health as well as expanding the frontiers of our digital economy.

Energy supply and security is under cross cutting issues. Our activities our guided by the National Energy Policy of 2012, the Renewable Energy Policy of 2019 and the Biofuels Policy of 2019. The new policies, whose provisions have a 2030 time-horizon, seek to transform energy supply from conventional polluting sources to clean technologies. They also prescribe various options to bring clean energy to rural areas of Zimbabwe, where 60% to 70% of our population live.

The Renewable Energy Policy also sets targets for renewable energy as a contribution to the reduction of green house gases by 33% as mentioned in the National Determined Contributions (NDCs). The policy aims to:

lAchieve an installed renewable capacity of 1 100MW (excluding large hydro) or 16,5% of total electricity supply, whichever is higher by 2025 and

l2 100MW or 26,5% of total electricity supply by 2030.

lAt least 250 000 solar geysers are targeted to be installed as well.

lCumulative capacity of 150MW to be realised from small hydropower plants. Less that 35MW has been tapped to date.

lResource assessment carried out in the country shows that Zimbabwe has also a good wind potential which can be exploited. At least 100MW of windpower to be developed as well.

In addition to the above policy prescriptions, let me also acknowledge the existence of the Climate Change Policy, which directly points out renewable energy as the solution to our climate change challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, allow me to affirm and further emphasise the stance by government to support investment in renewable energy and remind all here present that we await to implement the dictates of our national renewable energy policy which is heavily inclined towards making it favourable for investment in this sector.

I am glad to let you all know that on April 18, 2021, Zimbabwe attained 41 years of independence. As they say, life begins at 40. Surely, we have no excuses for continuing to experience loadshedding as well as importing power 41 years after independence. I challenge all of us to expeditious develop renewable energy projects in order to improve the country’s energy security as well as create employment.

Let me congratulate Alpha Media Holdings, sponsors such as United Nations Development Programme and partners and all those who have worked tirelessly for this event to become a success. I am informed this conference series is now an annual event. I am excited by this continued initiative as it buttresses our thrust as a ministry to increase visibility, and create awareness of the potential of renewables.

The ministry welcomes conferences of this nature which help government in its stakeholder engagement exercise. Let us work together to position our country as Africa’s hub for renewable energy. No one should be left behind as we transition to a low carbon economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, enjoy Nyanga and may the serene environment enhance our participation towards the intended outcomes. And for those participating online, thank you for social distancing as the Covid-19 pandemic is still among us.

With these words, I declare this event open.

I thank you.

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