Econet in $250m national solar project

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Econet Group’s Distributed Power Africa (DPA) has initiated a national $250 million solar project.

The initiative which, according to the company, is going to create 5000 new jobs involves the provision of solar energy for industrial, commercial and domestic use.

In a statement Friday, Norman Moyo, the head of the company’s technology department, said they had already started implementing the project with huge orders coming from the corporate world who were replacing their diesel powered generators.

“Several leading Zimbabwean companies have also placed orders for the system which completely eliminates the need for the power utility except in emergency. It also replaces the need for diesel generators which require foreign exchange for diesel and also harm the environment.

“Our order book from corporates in Zimbabwe is already over 20 MW and growing daily,” said Moyo.

The concept of distributed power, from which the company derives its name, works on a reverse model to that used in traditional power utility models like ZESA.

“Instead of having a central power station controlled from a central control centre in a distributed power system, each customer has a “mini generating” plant on their premises. This is then controlled from a central control point managed by DPA which has over 100 engineers and technicians in Zimbabwe alone,”Moyo explained.

The company also has operations in Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania and in Zimbabwe it intends to deliver 100 MW to its collective customer base in the next two years.

DPA works with local banks to finance the solution for each customer.

“Once approved, the customer pays for the system using a leasing model, whereby they pay a flat monthly fee for 15 years. “This is off balance sheet financing, like leasing a car or industrial machinery,” said Norman Moyo.

He said although the initial focus was industrial and commercial customers the company hoped to start adding homes in the next 12 months. “We are about to build 100 homes just to demonstrate our capability but we are not yet ready for that sector,” Moyo said.

“There will be thousands of jobs created around the country for young people in particular…. and we expect to add 5000 jobs when we are at full capacity,” he said.