Hwange, (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday said thermal power generation, which is mainly based in Hwange, was key in realising the country’s dream of attaining electricity self-sufficiency by 2023.
Speaking here after touring a number of coal mining projects, he said power generation was critical if Zimbabwe was to attain its Vision 2030 of an Upper Middle Income Economy.
Among other things, he said this entailed ensuring the country was self-sufficient in electricity, fuel and food, all critical elements of any economy.
“The country has enough coal and reserves to avoid energy deficits experienced by the country in past years,” President Mnangagwa said, imploring investors in the mining sub-sector to expedite their projects.
Once a preserve of Hwange Colliery Company, coal mining in the district is now open to a number of private companies, some of whom are eying power generation.
Zimbabwe currently imports electricity from neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique, in part because a severe drought this year sharply reduced generation at the country’s main hydro-power plant in Kariba.
But the government wants to reduce, if not end, all power imports in coming years by investing in new generation capacity, and attracting private capital in the sector.
At the moment, Chinese contractors are expanding Hwange Power Station’s generating capacity at a cost of over US$1 billion which, coupled with that of Kariba recently upgraded as well, will significantly boast the nation’s electricity supplies.
President Mnangagwa said government welcomed any additional investment in power generation, and urged those licenced to ‘walk the talk.’
One of the new coal mining projects in the district is Western Coal and Energy, led by businessman Billy Rautenbach.
It has already invested US$20 million in the project, and hopes to increase this to around US$100 million in coming years.
Rautenbach told President Mnangagwa: “We are of the view that investment in mining is of paramount importance.”
President Mnangagwa implored companies investing in Hwange to employ more local people to help spread development to every corner of the country.