Seize opportunities in energy sector: President

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has rallied investors to take up opportunities in the energy sector where renewable energy sources and technologies are low-hanging fruits for realising the goal of increasing rural electrification.

He made the call at the International Renewable Energy Conference which started on February 27 and ended here yesterday.

It ran under the theme, “Building a sustainable energy future”, which was in line with global aspirations of investing in clean, sustainable energy sources in the face of the ruthless effects of climate change such as heavy rains resulting in floods and erratic rains in some cases resulting in food shortages.

Officially opening the conference, President Mnangagwa, who was represented by Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, said Zimbabwe is one of the founding members of the Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa, and is therefore collaborating and partnering with other African countries in the implementation of sustainable energy programmes and projects.

“This is set to double our national energy mix, while contributing to regional energy security and investment opportunities that leaves no one and no place behind,” said the President, who is also the patron of the International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo.

“The multi-pronged challenges of climate change coupled with the urgent need to industrialise our country demand you to be bold and decisive in the type of interventions and investments you make to close the energy gap.

“We cannot be found wanting and must keep up with the rest of the world.”

President Mnangagwa said conferences such as the one that ended yesterday, and other platforms, should critically examine the ongoing transition by incorporating the associated technological and socio-economic dimensions.

He said aspects related to the human capital development needs, in terms of skills and competencies that must be nurtured should be given due attention.

“Youth and gender mainstreaming as well as the concerns of our communities in both rural and urban areas, among other critical aspects, should form part of the discourse around energy transition.

“On the part of my Government, we are supporting the ‘Empowering Lives and Livelihoods Initiative’ launched at COP28.

“The programme aims to broaden dialogue and partnerships on the nexus around water, agriculture, food systems and health value chains, as these relate to energy transition. To date, we are grateful for the invaluable partnership and support from the International Renewable Energy Agency, for the development of a country programme and prioritised strategy.

“This initiative will sharpen our interventions specifically in relation to access to clean energy by the health sector as well as the agriculture value chains,” said the President.

He added that daily power generation statistics from the Zimbabwe Power Company show that Zimbabwe is making steady progress in stabilising and increasing total energy output.

Just yesterday, Zimbabwe was generating a total of 1 538MW; 914MW from Hwange, 563MW from Kariba and 61MW from independent power producers.

But President Mnangagwa said more work must be done to ensure consistent access to clean energy across the provinces, including in rural communities.

“We, thus, stand ready to welcome more investors and partners to take up opportunities to promote new energy technologies and smart off-grid systems, across the country, with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development taking the lead.

“As we march towards realising energy self-sufficiency, the Second Republic is increasing the share of renewables as we migrate from non-renewable sources.

“Going into the future, we shall continue to prioritise the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing energy infrastructure over and above new green-field energy projects.

“Meanwhile, the upgrading of our country’s energy generation, transmission and distribution networks as well as other infrastructure is being scaled up,” he said.

In view of the critical relationship between energy, and sustainable socio-economic development, the President called upon the sector and in particular, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, to enhance energy conservation and efficiency awareness.

In addition, the provision of sound technical and professional services to investors and all stakeholders in the sector, must be guided by the ease of doing business work ethic advanced by the Second Republic.

Ministries, departments and agencies in the energy sector, were challenged to “facilitate and not to frustrate partners and investors”, to ensure increased energy generation.

President Mnangagwa also said the negative impacts of climate change remain topical and pressing worldwide, with Zimbabwe not exempt, having been severely affected by the phenomenon including in the energy sector.

He challenged the Renewable Energy Conference to undertake thought-provoking conversations for interventions that advance sustainable growth and a higher quality of life for the people, even in the midst of climate change.

“The energy sector is also urged to equally shift the discourse so that we chart greener development pathways that do not compromise environmental biodiversity and our pressing need to modernise and industrialise Africa.

“On its part, my Government will continue to fine-tune policies and heighten the implementation of flagship projects to manage the uncertainties associated with climate change.

“The adage goes; “Alone one can go fast; but together, we can go far”, hence, our unity of purpose and determination to build greater climate change resilience in the energy sector should result in increased collaboration among stakeholders and investors. Let us work concertedly to achieve net zero targets as outlined in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC),” said the President.

The Government Project Support and Implementation Agreement has been developed, said President Mnangagwa, adding that the renewable energy targets based on the NDC are set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while positively impacting on the demand and supply trends and maintain affordability of power to end-user consumers.

Manufacturers of green energy solutions and products were called upon to be more proactive and establish factories in Africa.

“Knowledge sharing around current trends, technologies and financing avenues must be promoted. The centrality of the renewable energy space to the future of the planet entails that we cannot exist or operate in silos.

“There is a need for unity and coordinated efforts,” the President said.

The exploitation of clean energy sources, especially for establishing mini-grid systems, must be supported for accessible and affordable energy for all the people.

President Mnangagwa added that growing agricultural production activities and discoveries of exploitable mineral deposits across the country require solutions that are quick to deploy.

“I, therefore, challenge investors and other stakeholders to set aside resources for research and development towards understanding the needs of rural communities as well as to develop goods and services which give impetus to rural industrialisation and ultimately improve the quality of life of our people.

“I invite strategic partnerships for the Rural Electrification Programme so that capacity is increased to roll out rural renewable energy projects and programmes. These include the adoption of new technologies to harness solar, wind and biogas, among others.

“To this end, I commend independent power producers and other private players who have taken up the challenge by investing in energy and power projects across all provinces, some of which will soon be ready for commissioning,” he said.

The President said his door remains open for dialogue towards accelerating the country’s defined targets in terms of both growing the energy mix and realising renewable energy transition in the country.

AMH chief executive Mr Kenias Mafukidze said he was happy with the growth of the conference in the last five years.

He said it has moved from being a talk show, to forging game-changing partnerships that have helped increase investments in energy generation.

Ten countries including South Africa, Zambia, Canada, Angola and the European Union, were represented.

Mr Mafukidze said Vision 2030 of an upper middle-income society was achievable if “we rain on this path”.

The conference was organised by Alpha Media Holdings in conjunction with the Government and other private players.

The official opening ceremony was attended by Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo, Energy and Power Development Minister Edgar Moyo, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and several senior Government officials and representatives from the European Union and the United Nations, among other development partners.

Herald

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