Prosper Ndlovu in Victoria Falls
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday described as “treasonous” the spate of vandalism of critical public infrastructure and directed stakeholders in the justice system and communities across the country to collaborate more closely to bring acts of sabotage to an end.
The President’s remarks come on the back of a national outcry over vandalism and theft of key infrastructure mainly targeting energy, telecommunications, rail, and water sectors, which is costing the country millions of United States dollars every year.
Reports of vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure are rampant and these have a crippling effect on water and power supplies to consumers including critical institutions like hospitals, rail transportation, and communication systems.
The resultant losses are costly to the economy as they persistently drain scarce resources in repairs and replacements, most of which require forex resources.
In his keynote address at the International Renewable Energy Conference here yesterday, President Mnangagwa said ending this vicious cycle demands strong stakeholder collaboration and activating deterrent criminal justice measures.
“As President and patron of this conference and expo, I remain gravely concerned with the continued vandalism and theft of our country’s energy infrastructure. Stakeholders in the criminal justice system, together with communities throughout the country are urged to collaborate more closely towards ending such criminal and treasonous acts,” he said.
In view of the prevailing energy generation and supply gaps, as well as climate change adaptation considerations, President Mnangagwa said greater collaboration is needed in increasing investments in clean energy technologies and infrastructure.
He said his administration has already adopted a proactive stance through deliberate policy measures that create favourable conditions for new investors with Government and its key agencies ready to facilitate successful project implementation in line with the Second Republic’s economic transformation agenda.
“To date, my administration has created an enabling environment for Independent Power Producers to thrive. Following observations from the sector, some of which were shared at your last conference, my Government has introduced a standard Implementation Agreement, Power Purchase Agreement and a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe undertaking,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The agreement offers favourable incentives to Independent Power Producers (IPPS) and guarantees some of the risks prevalent in the sector.”
The President commended IPPs which are already taking advantage of the opportunities in the energy and power development sector by leveraging prescribed assets of insurance and pension funds.
He challenged other financing institutions to be also more creative in their funding mechanisms by playing their part in supporting investments in the energy sector.
“As energy consumers in our respective sectors, we must collectively contribute towards the realisation of national energy self-sufficiency and the building of a prosperous upper-middle-income economy,” said the President.
Following the successful synchronisation of the 300MW Hwange Power Station Unit 7 expansion into the national grid on Monday, President Mnangagwa said the development was a cause for celebration by the country.
The new plant is expected to ramp up production in a phased manner to reach its full capacity while work to complete Unit 8, which will also add 300MW, is being accelerated and is progressing well.
The President said his administration remains committed to the attainment of a versatile national energy mix, in which renewable energy is expected to contribute its fair share.
“As we scale up our country’s industrialisation and modernisation, with its associated energy needs, the unique realities and national interest will guide our energy and power development strategies,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President challenged the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to expedite the completion of the National Energy Efficiency Policy, which will help to ensure that the country’s energy resources are used efficiently across various sectors of the economy.
In his remarks, Vice President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, said Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Mnangagwa is focusing on modernising the energy sector.
He challenged industry players to play their part in ensuring clean energy for future generations.
Energy Minister, Soda Zhemu, said while the demand for energy products is growing, Government’s overall Vision 2030 has answers to the provision of a universal energy supply.
By the end of 2022, Zimbabwe had a total of only 40MW connected to the grid from solar, short of the needed 100Gigawatt of renewable energy, he said.
However, he noted that more potential was to be realised through unlocking IPPs projects, which are at different stages of implementation.
“On a larger scale we have more than 5 000MW of hydro energy potential mainly along Zambezi River,” he said.
Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Richard Moyo, said his province does not only have the potential for thermal power but renewable energy as well, which supports the vibrant tourism economy.
During the meeting, Energy Permanent Secretary, Dr Gloria Magombo, outlined the summary of deliberations since the start of the event on Tuesday and some of the resolutions. These include the need to enhance the value addition of energy minerals such as lithium, the need for financing new renewable projects, harnessing PPPs through setting up enabling investment climate, exploring future energy sources such as hydrogen, and greening the transport sector.
Alpha Media Holdings organised the conference, which runs under the theme: “Managing the future: Clean energy possibilities.”
The theme underscores the responsibility of the sector with regards to adopting renewable energies for anchoring current and future development, while also focusing on the need for a just and balanced energy transition.