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Econet commissions 466KW solar power plant

Almot Maqolo

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s telecommunication giant, Econet Wireless has commissioned a 466KW solar power plant at its Willowvale industrial complex in Harare, as the company strengthens its efforts to the adoption of clean and reliable energy. 

The solar plant is the largest commercial and industrial carport and roof mount installation of its kind to be deployed in the country. It was engineered and designed by Distributed Power Africa (DPA). However, the 466KW grid tied solar system will operate under a 25-year Independent Power Producer (IPP) Licence – one of the few issued by the energy and power regulator in Zimbabwe for self-consumption. 

Under the IPP Licence, Econet Willowvale will generate and supply power for self-consumption and at peak the plant will cater for nearly 45 percent of the business’s electricity needs. Speaking at the commissioning of the plant, group chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said the installation demonstrated the company’s commitment to the adoption of clean and reliable energy. 

“Our organisation launched a Green campaign in 2018 which has seen the company investing in alternative renewable energies, starting with six of our own business premises,” he said. 

“The commissioning of our Willowvale solar power plant demonstrates our focus to ensure that all our offices nationwide transition to clean and reliable energy as rapidly as possible.” 

The company’s Omni Contact centre in Graniteside was the first solar plant installed, followed by Econet’s local head office in Msasa and the company’s commercial offices in Livingstone Avenue in Harare last year. Also Econet Bulawayo offices had also gone Green, with all the installations being done by DPA. Mboweni said work is at an advanced stage, at Econet’s major offices countrywide, including Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo as the company worked towards its contributions to global de-carbonisation of the energy sector.

The Willowvale solar plant has a total of 1 435 panels installed at carports and rooftop. It comes complete with a real-time power monitoring system and the plant will generate an estimated 780MWH of energy per annum. It is one of a dozen completed DPA solar projects in the southern African nation, with more at the project planning stages.  

DPA, which currently has a 100MW pipeline for deployment across a number of sectors within Zimbabwe, will this year complete sizeable projects for customers in the manufacturing, hospitality and education sectors. 

DPA Zimbabwe chief executive officer Divyajeet Mahajan said the adoption of clean solar energy was on the rise in Zimbabwe. 

“With new technology, increased expertise and our viable financing solutions, the adoption of solar energy has increased significantly and as Zimbabwe is gearing itself towards global competitiveness energy remains a critical pillar in our economic transformation.  In the global agenda, Zimbabwe seeks to achieve a 33% reduction in emissions by 2030 and the Willowvale installation will result in a marked reduction of its carbon footprint, by 285 000 kg per annum,” said Mr Mahajan.

To date DPA has successfully installed close to 20 solar systems regionally, including a 216 200 KWh per annum solar plant for the largest data centre facility in East Africa built in Nairobi, Kenya.  

Secretary for energy and power development, Gloria Magombo challenged other local companies to make use of the solar energy as it is vital for economic transformation.

“As government we were pleased to hear of Econet and DPA’s commitment to $250 million to spur the solar energy sector. This is indeed a welcome development. With a no risk, zero capital financing model, that enable organisations to rapidly adopt renewable solar energy, it is our hope that more companies take this opportunity,” she said.

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