Zim secures big Norwegian deal – Pres Mnangagwa

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New York (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Monday a Norwegian company planned to invest in methane gas extraction, and subsequently build a 1 000 megawatt gas-fired electricity generating plant in the country as investor interest brightens in the wake of wide ranging economic reforms the government was undertaking to woo foreign capital.

He said the company, which he did not name, will also venture into fertilizer manufacturing, and build a huge reservoir for water extracted in the course of gas extraction for possible irrigation purposes.

He was speaking after talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg here on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Zimbabwe has huge methane gas reserves, particularly in Matabeleland North Province, and for years had been trying to attract investment to exploit these.

“I’m sure you are aware that there is a company from Norway which is coming to invest in Zimbabwe in energy, in coal bed methane gas so that we shall have electricity – about 1 000 megawatts and also fertilizer will be produced and also water because as you go down to get to methane gas, there is a lot of water, so they are also planning to use that water and put it in a dam,” said President Mnangagwa.

“We are very happy about that,” he added.

The investment, when it comes through, will be a huge relief for Zimbabwe, which is currently suffering acute power shortages due to under-capacity worsened this year by drought which reduced generation at the main hydro-power generating plant in Kariba.

As a result, the country has been forced into costly electricity imports from neighbours Mozambique and South Africa, but even this has failed to meet demand.

Norway has a huge gas industry, and is one of the biggest suppliers of the commodity in Europe, and elsewhere in the world.

President Mnangawa said talks with Norwegian premier Solberg centred on wider economic co-operation, and re-setting formerly strained relations between the two countries.

Norway, a member of the European Union, joined the group in imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe two decades ago at the instigation of Britain – the latter’s former colonial power – in the hope of swaying the southern African country to reverse its land reforms.

The reforms, under which excess white owned farmland was compulsorily acquired to resettle landless blacks, were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.

But President Mnangagwa said the talks with Solberg were cordial, and pointed to a full thaw in relations between the two countries, in part due to his government’s engagement and re-engagement policy under which it is reaching out to friends and foes alike to open a new page in relations.

“The relations between Zimbabwe and Norway are excellent, and we were discussing issues of investment,” he said.

Solberg said the talks with President Mnangagwa were fruitful, and Norway was keen to rebuild ties with Zimbabwe.

“Yes we had a good discussion , and I also told him I stayed in Zimbabwe at some point when I was a student,” she said.

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