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Old Mutual injects US$20m into energy

OLD Mutual Zimbabwe has invested US$20 million in green energy projects to help the southern African country address power shortages, an executive said Wednesday.

The firm, which presides over several financial services outfits on the domestic market, said it partnered with power producer, Solgas to develop a five-megawatt (MW) plant near Hwange.

The first phase of the project, in which Old Mutual controls 50% shareholding, is worth US$7,3 million.

Old Mutual Investment group managing director Marjorie Mayida told journalists during a tour of the plant that the firm’s strategy involves establishing green energy facilities.

“This is green energy and I think in line with COP26 discussions, we all know this is the way to go.

“We are very much focused on that initiative of going green. We have got quite a number of projects.

“The Hwange project is just one of the examples. We have got another solar project in Gwanda and we believe that by June next year, it should be up and running,” Mayida said.

“We already have a 1,6MW hydropower station in Chipinge and this was commissioned in 2017. We are also working on another 5MW hydropower project in Great Zimbabwe.

“The other one which we are working on with our partners is a 20MW project near Chinhoyi. This is just to demonstrate our thrust towards green energy. We take opportunities as they come.

“This year we have put in about US$20 million in our projects including this one and the bulk of that US$20 million was mainly for the infrastructure projects that I highlighted.”

COP26 was a climate change conference which took place in the United Kingdom last month.

Solgas Energy co-founder and chief finance officer Tafadzwa Mundicha said the solar plant was only the first phase of a project that is expected to achieve an installed capacity of 50MW.

Power from the plant is sold to Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

He said Solgas plans to begin the second phase of the project, which will increase the capacity of the plant to 15MW.

Mundicha said an additional 10MW would be commissioned during the second quarter of 2022.

Solgas co-founder and chief operating officer Petros Kazungu commended Old Mutual for investing in solar energy at a time when most financiers were reluctant to come on board.

“We want to thank Old Mutual because it saw the light before anybody else. It’s good that we are now working with local financiers to get these projects going,” he said.

Kazungu said the loans would be paid back within seven years.

Old Mutual group chief executive officer Samuel Matsekete said they were committed to addressing the challenges affecting the energy sector in the country.

“Energy is a key enabler of everything that we will want to see in the development of the economy,” Matsekete said.

“We are now quite particular about environment, social impact and governance considerations around our projects.” (Newsday)

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