ZESA Chair Gata Slams Guvamatanga For Stalling Solar Power Plants

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From Andrew Kunambura In Hwange

ZIMBABWE Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) executive chairperson Sydney Gata has strongly castigated Finance Ministry secretary George Guvamatanga for refusing to guarantee Independent Power Producers’ (IPPs) deals and unlock their funding.

The deals have the potential to produce 300 megawatts of electricity, which would go a long way in easing the current power crisis that has seriously affected the operations of business and industry.

In his address during a tour of the Hwange Power Plant Monday, Gata said the IPPs were failing to take off because Guvamatanga, as the Finance Ministry secretary, was taking too long to guarantee the projects, which would unlock the much-needed funding.

The government last year licensed dozens of IPPs but they require the Finance Ministry to provide the necessary surety.

“The secretary for Finance is the main culprit. I can put it in writing so that you can go and tell him this is what I said,” Gata said.

“It is the Ministry of Finance that is responsible for issuing those guarantees which can unlock a lot of capacity that can end load shedding,” he added.

“Not only that, we could export electricity to South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia which are more desperate than ourselves.”

IPPs are a key part of the solution to the country’s dire energy shortages but investor-friendly policies are also crucial to secure funding, which Gata accused Guvamatanga of failing to guarantee.

Zimbabwe’s energy supply remains fragile and relies on power imports to plug the shortfall, and due to the depressed generation capacity, only 40% of houses in the country have access to electricity with 83% in urban areas and the remainder in rural areas.

Controversy continues to stalk Guvamatanga, who has over the past two weeks been severely attacked for holding a lavish party to celebrate his 50th birthday in Harare by bringing in top South African artists and spending huge amounts of money for the bash.

Zimbabwe is targeting to add more than 2 000 MW to the national grid mostly from renewable and cleaner sources, including solar, wind, and other sources by 2030.

Solar is the main energy source among all independent power producer projects licensed by government authorities. The largest solar plant under construction in the country is a 25 MW facility in Matabeleland North province.