October 25, 2019 / 11:35 AM / a month ago

Japan's Univergy to invest $200 million in Zambia solar power

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Japanese renewable energy company Univergy Solar is to invest more than $200 million in two solar power projects in Zambia that will add 200 megawatts (MW) to the country’s national grid next year, the government said on Friday.

Zambia mainly relies on hydropower and has an electricity deficit of about 750 MW due to low water levels at generation plants after a severe drought hit power production.

Univergy Solar Company will develop and implement a 135 MW project in northern Zambia and another 65 MW project in Zambia’s copperbelt, Zambia’s embassy in Tokyo said in a statement.

The Japanese firm will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zambian government next Tuesday to start work on the projects in the first quarter of 2020, it said.

The two projects were expected to be completed between six and eight months, it said.

“The solar power project will be implemented in collaboration with a Zambian company and is expected to create hundreds of jobs and business opportunities for local firms engaged to maintain the solar farms and generation plants,” the statement said.

Zambia is in talks with South African power utility Eskom to import 300 megawatts MW, Energy Minister Mathew Nkhuwa said in September, adding that retail prices could double once imports begin.

Zambia cut its economic growth forecast to around 2% for 2019, from an estimated 4%, due to the impact of the drought on its power supply and agricultural production.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Jane Merriman

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