Zambia pens US$2bn solar power deal with UAE
In a significant step forward towards strengthening its sustainable energy resources, Zambia has entered into a joint development agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to secure US$2-billion investment.
The agreement lays the foundation for a joint venture between the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) and MASDAR, a UAE investment funding organisation, to develop and deploy solar projects across the Southern African country.
Zambia’s president Hakainde Hichilema said rollout will be done in stages and begin with the installation of 500MW PV (photovoltaics) panels to feed the national grid.
Zambia is currently experiencing a shortage of electricity due to low water levels and insufficient capacity to generate enough electricity to meet the demand for power.
Hichilema said the country needs a combination of several energy resources – including solar, wind and hydro power - to avoid a power crisis.
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which manages the Kariba dam and the country’s main hydro power plant, has asked Zesco to reduce electricity generation from 1080MW to 800MW because of the low water levels.
Hichilema reiterated the significance of the UAE investment in fuelling power supply to the country.
He said, “This is not a loan but a capital injection in which the Zambian people through Zesco, will be partners in shareholding. Once completed, the project will result in an additional 2000MW of electricity in the country within a few years. The historical significance of this project is that in the last 58 years of our independence, the country has only developed 3,500MW of electricity.”