Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
CHINA Africa Sunlight Energy says it is awaiting the conclusion of financial closure to start major infrastructure development at its $2,1 billion project in the Gwayi area of Lupane, Matabeleland North. The project is a joint-venture between Zimbabwe’s Old Stone Investments and Shandong Taishan Sunlight of China to build a 600 megawatts power station, set up a coal mine and a coal-bed methane gas extraction venture.
It is envisaged the project will create hundreds of jobs for people in Matabeleland North and the country at large.
“We’ve finished clearing the land for the industrial and residential sites. We’re waiting for the finalisation of the financial closure with the investors soon to pave way for the construction of staff houses,” the firm’s deputy general manager Retired Colonel Charles Mugari said.
The company targets to spend $2,1 billion in the next five years with about $400 million expected to go towards construction of the coal mine and a residential complex with a capacity to accommodate 1,000 workers.
Construction of the colliery and a residential complex is expected to be completed by 2016.
At present, China Africa Sunlight Energy has set up makeshift offices where part of its workforce is housed for preliminary works.
The investment is one of the projects in Matabeleland region envisaged to boost the economy through power generation and employment creation.
It is hoped that the investment by China Africa will create about 4,500 jobs.
And as part of the first phase of the project, China Africa Sunlight Energy intends to construct a 300MW coal-fired power station while another 300MW power plant will be built under the second phase of the energy project that will focus on coal-bed methane gas extraction.
A few years ago, the firm was granted a 100,000 hectare concession by the government to undertake its operations with exploration work having shown that the area has good quality coal-bed methane gas reserves.
Power generated by China Africa Sunlight Energy will be fed into the national grid, a development that will improve power supply in the country.
Zimbabwe has in recent years been faced with acute electricity shortages due to ageing equipment at its power stations.