The Zambian government has recently announced that it is close to sign with SkyPower Global, a Canada-based solar energy equipment supplier, a power purchase agreement (PPA) to set up a photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturing plant a solar power plant within the next five years.
The solar power and manufacturing plants are expected to represent a total investment of USD 1.2 billion and it will finally add 1,000 MW of generation capacity at a rate of 200 MW per annum to the current installed of 1,967 MW.
The announcement was done by Zambia’s Minister of Energy and Water Development, Mrs. Dora Siliya, whom explained that SkyPower will not only invest in the power and manufacturing plant, but also allocate 10% of its total investment to rural electrification projects as a corporate social responsibility gesture.
SkyPower’s invest in Zambia will also pave the way for new foreign companies interested in solar power generation in the country and the government expects to give approximately five more licenses to solar power companies towards October, 2016, to additionally install extra 200 MW of capacity, Minister Siliya added.
This measure undertaken by the Zambian government seeks to reduce energy imports from Mozambique that have skyrocketed to a current value of USD 13.1 million every month up from USD 1.3 million imported in 2013, when the country started energy imports according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In addition, the government is also planning to triple the power generation capacity in the country to 6,000 MW within the next two years with the implementation of photovoltaic (PV) projects by investors from Germany and Italy according to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA).
The PV projects are part of the program Power Africa launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which seeks to expand and scale out the generation capacity in the Sub Saharan region by promoting the shifting from hydro-powered plants to new ones using renewable energy.
Most the installed power capacity of Zambia is based on hydropower. This is why the recent larger droughts have brought irregular electricity supplies to energy intensive copper producers.