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Zimbabwe government turns to renewable energy

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ENERGY players are expected to complete a study on renewable energy tariffs by year end as government shifts its focus on alternative power sources to plug the country’s energy deficit.

Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) second stakeholders’ consultation meeting in the capital, Energy and Power Development secretary Partson Mbiriri said the government’s new economic blueprint the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) had identified several greenfield projects to boost energy and power generation in the country.

Mbiriri said government was also prioritising increased investment in key infrastructure such as energy and power development, roads, rail, aviation, telecommunication, water and sanitation through public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other private sector initiatives.

According to the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe requires $14 billion to fix its infrastructure. Critics, however, say raising that money will be a herculean task for government due to its huge debt overhang.

Zimbabwe has an estimated external debt of $10,7 billion, which represents 110% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Mbiriri said the country’s energy regulator was working on the completion of the Renewable Energy Feed In Tariffs (REFIT).

“We are expected to give our final inputs that can be incorporated into this sudy and lead us to finalise the project before implementing it as from 2014,” Mbiriri said.

“The REFIT project will go a long way in achieving some of my ministry’s strategic goals namely, to increase the use of renewable resources by 300MW by 2018 and to increase national power supply to 1 700MW by 2018.”

Zimbabwe has a daily peak demand of 2200MW against supply of 1 200MW. With industry operating way below optimal levels, players say this peak demand could increase should manufacturing sector output peak.

Mbiri said the development of REFIT would enable the country to realise sustainable economic growth and development, poverty reduction, economic empowerment and employment creation among many other benefits.

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