• President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government has signed a deal with the UAE to set up 2 GW of solar power capacity in the country
  • It will be developed over the next 18-month duration in two phases of 1 GW each
  • Having large-scale solar power capacity will help the country become self-sufficient in meeting its electricity requirements, he said as per local media

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to help Zimbabwe establish solar PV capacity of 2 GW under an agreement signed with the south African nation’s government. Speaking at a youth convention, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the project will be completed in 18 months and help the country deal with its power deficit.

According to the President, as reported by local media, the deal was struck after he met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayad Al Nahyan and asked him to help Zimbabwe with 500 MW solar power capacity, but the Prince insisted for 2 GW to which Mnangagwa agreed. Of this, 1 GW will be set up in a first phase initially. Post completion of the first phase, second phase of remaining 1 GW will be launched.

The Herald reported low water levels in the Kariba Dam reservoir and aged infrastructure of Zimbabwe’s thermal power stations is leading to major power shortages up to 15 hours on a daily basis. “While solar only works in daytime, experts say Zimbabwe has in Lake Kariba what amounts to the world’s largest storage battery, especially as Kariba South Power Station is now oversized for the river flow, that is it cannot run flat out 24 hours a day even in good rainfall years,” reads the report.

Once the large scale solar capacity is up and running, Kariba South Power Station can be switched off during the day for its power to be supplied during night time.

President Mnangagwa is hopeful that over the next year and half, Zimbabwe will say ‘bye-bye’ to the problem of power shortages.

Dependent on South African electricity utility Eskom for its power supply—which is not without problems of its own—and Mozambique, Zimbabwe has been making news for its massive load shedding over the past few months. It has negatively impacted not just the life of common people but has been affecting its economy too by halting activities of businesses, industries, mines.

Through solar PV the country hopes to become energy independent and diversify its resources. The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has been receiving and approving licenses for utility scale solar power plants in quick succession of late. In September 2019, local media reported ZERA has processed applications for 39 solar PV plants in the country with 1.15 GW cumulative capacity representing $2.3 billion in total investment, out of which six projects are already generating 7.47 MW of solar power (see 39 Solar PV Projects Processed By ZERA In Zimbabwe).