$2.1bn CASE project hangs in balance

Mr Partson Mbiriri

Mr Partson Mbiriri

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE $2.1 billion energy development project to be implemented by China Africa Sunlight Energy in the Gwayi area of Lupane, Matabeleland North hangs in the balance due to funding constraints.

The proposed project, a joint-venture between Zimbabwe’s Old Stone Investments and Shandong Taishan Sunlight of China, is yet to take off nearly five years since its launch.

Pioneers of the project had planned to build a 600 megawatts power station, set up a coal mine and a coal-bed methane gas extraction venture.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Partson Mbiriri, told Business Chronicle in Bulawayo on Thursday that all the preliminary work for the project had been done but the project was being held back by funding constraints.

“The project by China Africa Sunlight Energy is a private sector development. All the preliminary work has been done but what has held back the project is lack of funding.

“Government did its part and its up to the investors to mobilise the required resources,” he said.

The planned investment was expected to boost power generation and create 4 500 jobs.

In a separate interview, Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge said his ministry, just like in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, has adopted the use-it-or lose it policy aimed at ensuring investors make use of the allocated concessions or resources.

“From a policy point of view it is important to note that Government liberalised the energy sector, we now allow private players to come in as investors under the Independent Power Producers framework.

“We do not allow people to hold licences for speculative purposes, what we want are serious investors that implement proposed projects,” he said.

The Government granted China Africa Sunlight Energy a 100 000 hectare concession a few years ago to undertake its operations with exploration work having shown that the area has good quality coal-bed methane gas reserves.

The company targeted to spend $2,1 billion in five years with about $400 million expected to go towards construction of the coal mine and a residential complex with a capacity to accommodate 1 000 workers.

The first phase of the project involved construction of a 300MW coal-fired power station.

— @okazunga

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