As COVID-19 disrupts life across the world, it has also called for flexibility for most organisations and businesses alike.
In Monze District of Southern province, District Officials have had to adjust to the current situation as certain projects among them a multi-million dollar Kalahari Geothermal Power Project has virtually come to a standstill due to the measures aimed at fighting the pandemic.
On Thursday, Kalahari Geo Company Director Dr Moses Banda visited the district to reassure officials that the project remains on course though the timeline has changed.
“Yes I have to confirm that our operations have been greatly affected by this pandemic. I can describe our challenges as twofold. As you know the company has engaged drilling consultants from Australia and New Zealand while the Engineering consultants are from the USA, this has proved to be the first challenge due to travel restrictions by countries. Planes are not moving but Emirates flights seem to be promising to commence flights here soon.
“The second challenge is the part were those coming into the country have to be quarantined for two weeks. We are happy that the President lifted some restrictions on the tourism industry when he visited Livingston and we are hoping that by June flights can start coming in, and some of the restrictions would have been removed such as the 14day quarantine period so that in the next few weeks we can recommence drilling at our Bweengwa site,” said Dr. Banda in an interview.
Asked on the schedule for starting the pilot power generation which was earmarked for September, Dr. Banda confirmed that the program has been altered and that the schedule for the pilot project will only be confirmed once the crew moves back on site.
“We are already 3 months behind schedule as it is. We normally have the crew back on site by March after the break but now we don’t even know when they will be getting to the site. We hope the President will relax some of the restrictions so that some sectors can go back to working. Of course we will have to put up measures to ensure that workers are safe from the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile the Energy Company has secured a $3.2 million loan from CAMCO Green Energy a renewable energy investment promotion agency funded by the British Government for it’s next phase of drilling.
Dr Banda explained that to date, Kalahari GeoEnergy Ltd has privately financed the project which has seen them drill 18 exploratory wells and that the loan facility will help them complete the next phase of the project.
“The convertible loan facility from CAMCO will enable us to drill and test additional slim wells to determine the capacity of the reservoir. The addition of dispatchable, sustainable energy to the grid will be a positive step towards Zambia meeting its development targets, while the secondary uses of geothermal energy should attract investment into the district,” he said.
With the country grappling with challenges in the Energy sector which has seen extended hours of load management, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time as adding geothermal to Zambia’s energy mix would allow for a renewable source of baseload capacity and have a potentially transformative impact on both the country and the region by facilitating the expansion of geothermal energy generation in the region.
Incidentally the province’s first ever industrial park is earmarked to be located in the district as it will rely on the utilization of geothermal energy as well as the steamy water which will be a byproduct of the power generation process