$50 million for mountain hydro electric project

Ellen Makumbe (24) works on a computer donated to her by a local NGO. She never dreamt of being connected to the outside world through the social media network. But today she has a lot of friends from across the globe.

This has been made possible by Nyangani Renewable Energy, which has set up mini hydro power stations in Honde Valley to supply power to poor rural communities. Before this, donated computers were gathering dust due to non-availability of power in schools while clinics were using candles during the night to attend to patients.

The project is now in its second phase and is expected to produce 2, 75 megawatts, in addition to the 1.1mw initially generated.

Nyangani Renewable Energy Managing Director, Ian McKersie said the $6 million project is expected to light the whole of Honde Valley and will be completed by August this year.

“The third phase will be exporting power to whole of Manicaland province and is expected to cost $50 million,” he said. He said their projects did not have storage for water like Kariba hydro station but they were being attracted to the area by steep slopes, good rainfalls and gradient which allow water to flow with pressure.

“The project is 100 percent community driven. As a company we have a deliberate policy to employ the locals,” said McKersie. He said they have also constructed roads and building of a local school is underway in Honde Valley.

McKersie said although the project has scored some successes in reducing environmental degradation and problems of power it had a fair share of its challenges.

“Our challenge is to sell the electricity to the end-user at economic rates that are also viable. The terrain here makes it difficult to lay some pipes especially during the rainy season. So we need expensive equipment that is suitable for the terrain,” he said. He said although there were some challenges they have managed to achieve their goals of bringing power to the disadvantaged Zimbabweans in rural areas.

He said they were working closely with stakeholders such as Ministry of Power and Energy Development, Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority and Rural District Councils to make sure that the project becomes a success.

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