Govt to solve land ten­ure is­sues

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Con­rad Mwanawashe Harare Bureau

THE Gov­ern­ment is work­ing on solv­ing land ten­ure is­sues for so­lar farms af­ter it emerged that some in­vestors were be­ing given five-year leases, too short for in­vestors to re­coup their in­vest­ments.

So­lar is one of the ma­jor re­new­able sources of en­ergy ex­pected to help ease the power short­ages in Zim­babwe.

Zim­babwe re­quires about 1 400MW, but cur­rent gen­er­a­tion is around 1 000MW with the bal­ance be­ing ac­counted for through im­ports from regional power util­i­ties. So­lar is there­fore, one of the ma­jor sources of en­ergy ex­pected to im­prove sup­ply of elec­tric­ity

But the avail­abil­ity, li­cens­ing and op­er­a­tions of ma­jor so­lar projects was be­ing com­pro­mised by the short leases prospec­tive in­vestors were be­ing given.

Also, the un­avail­abil­ity of long leases was af­fect­ing po­ten­tial in­vest­ment in some cases.

Hav­ing re­alised this, Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments are now en­gag­ing to find com­mon ground on the so­lar farms is­sues.

Zim­babwe En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive En­gi­neer Glo­ria Magombo told stake­hold­ers at a con­fer­ence on fi­nanc­ing en­ergy that En­ergy and Power De­vel­op­ment Min­istry was en­gag­ing the Min­istry of Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment to find a so­lu­tion to is­sues re­lat­ing to so­lar farms.

“I know the min­istry is work­ing with the Min­istry of Lands on the is­sue of so­lar farms in terms of how we co­or­di­nate. We have been talk­ing about land ten­ure is­sues, the ac­tual link­ing of the li­cences which we are is­su­ing to the peo­ple want to do so­lar farms and also the lease agree­ments on some of the lands,” said Eng Magombo.

“Be­cause there was a mis­match at one time where we were hav­ing peo­ple who want to do so­lar farms be­ing given five-year leases. But all that is now be­ing co­or­di­nated.”

The Zim­babwe Elec­tric­ity Trans­mis­sion and Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany es­ti­mates de­mand for power to surge to 3 500MW by 2020.

The Min­istry of En­ergy and Power De­vel­op­ment says that the en­ergy sec­tor in Zim­babwe presents im­mense in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, be it in power de­vel­op­ment, petroleum sup­ply or in the re­new­able en­ergy sub sec­tors.

It says that Zim­babwe has high so­lar ir­ra­di­a­tion av­er­ag­ing 200 Me­ga­joules per square me­tre. So­lar en­ergy can be har­nessed for pump­ing drinking wa­ter for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion ,pow­er­ing lights and ap­pli­ances at ru­ral in­sti­tu­tions (schools and clin­ics),and wa­ter heat­ing in ur­ban ar­eas.

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