Zimbabwe plans to build three solar power plants - CNBC Africa

Zimbabwe plans to build three solar power plants

Southern Africa

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Solar panels at a solar power plant. PHOTO: Getty Images

Zimbabwe plans to construct three solar-powered plants in the west of the country at a cost of 540 million US dollars in a bid to ease electricity shortages in the country, an official with the state power company said on Monday.

The southern African nation, which has no shortage of sun-shine, produces about 1,200 MW of electricity against a peak demand of 2,200 MW, resulting in long outages that have hit domestic consumers, industry and agriculture.

“We have received overwhelming response from investors and we are at the stage of shortlisting candidates," Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority chief executive Josh Chifamba told Reuters.

Construction of the three solar-powered plants, which will each generate 100 MW, is expected to begin by end of 2014, Chifamba said.

A government official told a meeting of the electricity industry on Monday that Zimbabwean businesses and individuals were spending $360 million every year on diesel generators to produce 250 MW of power.

China's Exim Bank last month agreed to lend Zimbabwe $319 million to add 150 MW to its Kariba hydro power station.

Chifamba said work at Kariba was expected to start in January.