Marjorie Mayida at the solar farm

Old Mutual Zimbabwe-backed solar farm ready for commissioning

THE 5,4-megawatt SolGas solar farm at Cross Mabale in Dete, Matabeleland North, a joint between Old Mutual Investment Group and Solgas Energy, is expected to go live on July 31.

The farm has been under construction since 2019, with Old Mutual investing US$7,3 million on the project, which is made of 16 000 solar panels.

Last week, SolGas connected a 28-kilometre livewire linking the solar farm to the national grid via the Gwayi sub-station.

“The project started in late 2019 and we are at the tail end of the project. I am very glad by the work that you are seeing there, most of it was done by locals, and about eighty percent of the labour was locals. About 40 percent of the labour force is women, so we are just about to complete the project and are quite pleased,” Marjorie Mayida, Old Mutual Investment Group managing director said in an interview.

She said what was remaining were logistics to bring the remaining materials outside Zimbabwe to complete the project.

“We are now working on the final stages of the project and by August we should have commissioned it,” Mayida said.

“The delays on the project was basically to do with the colour of the money which is a challenge in this country to import materials. But all the funding is now provided for. The US$7,3 million is what was required for this project,” she added.

Old Mutual’s portfolio has been buildings anchored on insurance and the group has been investing in the major cities, but its new strategy was to diversify away from city buildings and venture into private infrastructure and equity investments, specifically in the energy sector, she said.

The group said it was looking at clean energy and so was investing in solar energy as well as hydro power energy.

It is also looking at increasing some of its exposure sectors to tourism and the education sector.

“The target date for commissioning is July 31, but it may also be in August,” SolGas co-founder and chief financial officer Tafadzwa Mundicha said.

The SolGas solar farm is among the 100 megawatts of electricity that the government expects will be added to the national grid from renewable energy projects by the end of this year, alongside an additional 50MW in thermal power.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said at last week’s post Cabinet meeting briefing that: “Cabinet advises that one thermal power project and ten renewable energy projects will come on board this year.”

“The thermal power project will add 50MW to the national grid, while the renewable energy projects will provide about 100MW, translating to a combined total of about 150MW being realised from the projects.”

In recent weeks, , Zimbabwe has been enduring load shedding after a fault at Hwange Thermal Power Station and limited imports from South Africa, which is also experiencing power cuts.

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