Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says investments in solar energy hold the key to addressing energy challenges and reducing costs of pumping water at its treatment plants.
The local authority is already pursuing a planned 50MW solar farm project at Ncema, which it expects to reduce costs and improve water delivery by approximately 50 percent.
Government has already approved the project which is a joint venture between council and Williams Engineering.
The power plant is expected to create 200 jobs during construction and 40 jobs during its operation while also providing dedicated power to Bulawayo industries in the designated Special Economic Zones.
The plant would also provide an alternative revenue stream for the local authority.
“Electricity to be generated from the project is expected to address the perennial power challenges at the city’s pumping station” said the Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni, said.
It will also provide power to the city’s critical installations thereby reducing the local authority’s power bill.
In his annual 2022 report, Clr Mguni said Bulawayo was implementing its ambitious city re-development programme whose main thrust is to rebuild the city in line with the ‘Smart City’ concept.
The city re-development initiative will see old suburbs such as Makokoba, Mzilikazi and other areas such as Ascot Race Course being transformed into first-world suburbs and shopping malls.
The Government has long pledged to avail millions of dollars to fund the redevelopment of Makokoba and other suburbs in Bulawayo.
The project, which was initiated in May 2015 by the council and was approved by the Government, is expected to see more than 17 000 people benefiting from increased housing space.
Clr Mguni said the city was also working on reclaiming its past status as the industrial hub saying the task ahead requires that Government, Bulawayo residents, the council and the private sector work together for the development of the economy.