ZIMBABWE – Harava Solar, a Zimbabwe based firm, has invested about US$25 million in the designing and construction of a 20Mega Watt (MW) solar power plant in Seke, South of Harare.

The project, spanning 20 hectares of land at a total investment of US$27.9 million, is expected to save the country up to US$4 million per year when the firm starts feeding the national grid – from January next year.

Harava Solar co-founder and chief executive Mr Ainos Ngadya, who is also Chief executive and founder of Invest Solar Africa, told The Herald that the company is expected the project to be commissioned around December this year.

“Harava Solar is an independent power producer licensed to develop, design and construct an initial 20MW solar array at Bwoni Village in Seke,” said Mr Ngadya.

“We were licensed in 2018 by Zera (the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority) and approximately US$25 million has been invested to bring the project to commissioning around December 2019.

“All energy generated will be fed into the national grid, thereby saving the country at least US$4 million per year in power imports.”

At construction peak, Mr Ngadya expects the company to create 170 direct jobs in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) that also seeks to invest in public infrastructure, especially energy and roads, as key to unlocking economic growth potential.

Boost to power supply

The Harava Solar project comes at a time Zimbabwe is reeling from massive power shortages, which have resulted in long hours of load shedding to manage demand.

National power utility ZESA owes Eskom and HCB a combined US$74 million for power imports. The government recently availed US$10 million to ZESA so that it pays part of its obligations to the two regional power utilities.

Some IPPs have previously complained that the current average tariff of $9,86c per kilowatt hour was not sustainable, hence the challenges in accessing funds to implement power projects.

But Mr Ngadya says the current tariff was still “reasonable” considering that the cost of solar panels has been going down in recent years.

“The tariff seems reasonable as the cost of solar panels has been declining consistently year-over-year though it may need to be somehow indexed to US dollars as 90 percent of equipment is imported in hard currency,” he said.

Mr Ngadya said the move by the government to waive duty on solar equipment to promote its use in the country to fight power shortages was “a positive improvement and will certainly unleash further investments in the clean energy sector”.

The government believes the removal of duty on solar equipment will reduce the spur investments in the sector and reduce demand for grid electricity.