In a significant move towards sustainable energy, Zambia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to facilitate massive investment in renewable energy in Zambia. The MoU and JDA will see ZESCO, the country’s state-owned electricity company, partner with MASDAR, a key investment funding entity of the UAE, to form a joint venture in developing and deploying large-scale solar projects across the country, estimated at US$2 billion.
Writing about the MOU, President Hakainde Hichilema said, “This MoU and JDA will see ZESCO partner with MASDAR, a key investment funding entity of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to form a joint venture in developing and deploying large scale solar projects across the country, estimated at US$2 billion. This is not a loan but a capital injection in which the Zambian people, through ZESCO, will be partners in shareholding.”
The projects will be undertaken in a phased manner, starting with the phased installation of 500 megawatts. Once completed, the projects will result in an additional 2000 megawatts of electricity in the country, within the next few years. This significant increase in electricity supply will be a major boost for the country’s economy, as it will result in more accelerated economic development and increased employment opportunities for citizens.
The significance of this project is that, in the last 58 years of Zambia’s independence, the country has only developed 3,500 megawatts of electricity. President Hichilema said, “The historical significance of this project is that, in the last 58 years of our independence, the country only developed 3,500 megawatts of electricity. This remarkable investment shall bring in the much needed 2000 megawatts, within a shorter period of time.”
The President also highlighted the renewed confidence that investors have in the sound leadership of the country, resulting in more players expressing interest to participate in the country’s planned diversified energy mix, which will include solar, wind, and hydro power.
In addition to the MoU and JDA signing, President Hichilema also recently held a meeting with Ali Rashed Alrashdi, the International Holding Company (IHC) Board Chairman, to discuss ways in which citizens involved in small-scale mining can be properly organized and benefit from the country’s mineral resources. The President said, “We are transforming our small or artisanal mining sector from the demeaning situation where they were being labelled illegal miners (jerabos) to an environment where they can obtain licences, assisted with some capital and equipment and provide ready market for them within the vicinity of their operations.”
He emphasized the need for joint ventures as the only way foreign companies can transfer knowledge and skills to citizens, enhance job creation, and exploitation of opportunities. He also mentioned the need for mineral processing plants and value addition facilities around small-scale mining to avoid a situation where investors extract soil and export it in raw form.
“We look forward to the actualization of more of such engagements and projects,” said President Hichilema. The signing of this MoU and JDA, as well as the discussion on small-scale mining, is a clear indication of the government’s commitment to promoting sustainable energy and economic development in the country.