Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a 2 000 megawatts solar power deal, which will go a long way in solving Zimbabwe’s power deficit once implemented in 18 months.
The first phase is production of 1 000MW, roughly the same size as Kariba South Power Station’s output, when operating at full throttle.
This was said by President Mnangagwa yesterday while addressing thousands of Zanu-PF youths during the 2019 National Youth Convention at Rimuka Stadium, here.
The President was in the UAE last week for the 5th session of the Global Business Forum on Africa, where he took the opportunity to market Zimbabwe to potential investors.
During the visit, President Mnangagwa met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and briefed him about the power situation in the country.
The Crown Prince agreed to help Zimbabwe and his team was in Harare on Monday and signed the deal, which will be implemented in phases.
President Mnangagwa said power shortages will be a thing of the past in the next one-and-a-half years.
“I was in Abu Dhabi last week where I was attending the UAE Business Forum where we were invited. After meeting the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi who assisted us last time with three planeloads of goods during the Cyclone Idai disaster, I said to him may you come to Zimbabwe and assist us to build solar power plants,” said President Mnangagwa.
“He asked me how many megawatts we require and I said 500MW. After consultations in Arabic language with some of his officials, he said ‘my brother, if you want 500MW only, we don’t come unless you ask for anything from 2 000MW and above.
“I said it’s fine, we want 2 000MW. He then asked me when I was going to depart for Harare and I said tonight. He then said my team is coming to Zimbabwe the following day. And true to his word, the team came and on Monday we signed a deal with first phase of 1 000MW.”
President Mnangagwa said once the first phase has been completed, another 1 000MW plant will be constructed.
“These are the good friends that we have. We are planning that in one-and-a-half years, we will say bye-bye to the problem of power shortages,” he said.
The President said power generation was expected to improve when the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station units 7 and 8 was completed.
The expansion, which will see an additional 600MW being fed into the grid on completion, is being undertaken with the assistance of China at a cost of US$1,5 billion.
At the moment, load-shedding of up to 15 hours per day has become the norm, due to low water levels in Kariba Dam and delays in refurbishing thermal power stations.
The Hwange extensions will be generating power 24 hours a day.
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.
With large solar installations, Kariba South can be switched off during the day, keeping the daytime ration of water in store.
At night, the power station can use the whole 24-hour ration of water in just 12 hours, keeping Zimbabwe’s lights on until the sun rises the next morning.
President Mnangagwa said the Government had come up with Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy, and urged all Zimbabweans to work towards its attainment.
He said while Government was working to address the economic situation in the country, medical doctors with a nefarious agenda which is now known, were retarding the efforts.
“We said we should all contribute towards Vision 2030. If you are a teacher, do the same. If you are a doctor, do the same (and) not to contribute to the death of people,” said the President.
“We sent you to school for you to be a doctor and treat us. They said the money that you are giving us is little and we sit down with our Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Professor Mthuli Ncube) and we agreed to give them an increment of 30 percent and they rejected it.
“I said give them 60 percent and they rejected. We stretched the increment to 100 percent and they rejected again and upon analysing the matter, we realised that they are not alone.
“Most of the doctors are just being used by a few with their own agendas that we now know. They are being given money every month to prolong the crisis.”
President Mnangagwa said Government followed the law to the latter and took the matter to the courts where the doctors’ strike was ruled illegal.
He said after that ruling, the doctors refused to go back to work and the process of disciplinary action was instituted.
The President said doctors that are not reporting for duty could not be paid for nothing.