Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu , Gwanda Correspondent
ENERGY and Power Development Minister, Advocate Fortune Chasi, says modalities are being put in place to ensure solar products are imported duty free to increase investment in renewable energy across the country.
Speaking in an interview during a visit to the site of the 100 megawatt Gwanda solar power plant on Friday, Minister Chasi also said new construction projects should be required to incorporate solar power.
He said in the long run solar energy was the best solution to address prevailing power supply challenges facing the country.
“As a ministry we are looking at the possibility of ensuring that solar equipment or anything that is related to solar comes in effectively duty free so that we encourage even ordinary individuals to come in and invest in solar projects,” said Minister Chasi.
“We are also going to be looking at new construction projects and we will be looking at the law very closely to say that new projects must incorporate solar power in order to ease power challenges.”
The Minister also called on stakeholders to invest in solar projects saying efforts will be made to ensure that licences were issued promptly.
He called on Independent Power Producers that had been issued with licences to push their projects quickly.
“Let me take this opportunity to invite people from this area, those who have capacity or investors to consider this God given asset, which is the sun so that we can have projects that don’t go on interminably but projects that can deliver the power without delay.
“Please come forth with your projects quickly so that we ensure that licences are issued as soon as possible so you can start working,” said Minister Chasi.
“These solar farms are the projects that will enable people to have access to power. Right now various sectors and institutions such as hospitals are struggling to operate because of power cuts.
“My ministry is Energy and Power Development and this is part of the things we would like to do.”
Minister Chasi visited the 100 megawatt Gwanda solar power plant site to have an appreciation of the works that had been done.
Intratek Zimbabwe Private Limited, a company owned by flamboyant Harare businessman, Mr Wicknell Chivayo, was awarded the tender in 2015 and paid US$5 million by ZPC for pre-commencement works at the 100 megawatt Gwanda solar power plant.
After receiving the money without a bank guarantee, no meaningful development has taken place at the site.
Minister Chasi said the solar plant was supposed to have been commissioned by December 2017 and delays in implementing the project had resulted in the loss of sales by Zesa equivalent to 500GWhs and potential revenue loss of about US$50 million as at June this year.
He expressed disappointment as no work has been done at the site of the project despite the $5 million payment that was made to Intratek. — @DubeMatutu