Source: Energy summit on cards | The Herald February 13, 2020
Michael Tome and Chipo Chaumba
ROBUST private sector investment into the energy sector will headline the 2020 Infrastructure Summit and Expo to be held between March 4 and 7 in Victoria Falls.
Incorporating Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia, the event is taking place in the wake of heightened power shortages in these countries leading to scaling down of industrial capacity utilisation.
In the local scenario, power import prices have driven up the cost of production and commodities, thus reducing aggregate demand by consumers — all impacting negatively on economic growth.
South Africa’ Eskom last week announced stage two load shedding, while ZESCO of Zambia also issued a statement warning of load shedding escalation to stage eight.
On the Zimbabwean side, ZESA claims that the country’s electricity situation was back at stage one on account of improved power imports.
Zimbabwe has in recent years seen a surge in applications for the operation of independent power production, mostly solar and hydro all of which have not managed to cover the gap between electricity supply and demand.
This condition necessitates the need for more investment in the energy sector to create sufficient power for the country’s consumption.
Addressing the media on Monday, Ngoni Dzirutwe, the chief executive officer of Global Renaissance Investments, who are the organisers of the summit, indicated there was urgent need to propel the invitation of private sector investment in energy infrastructure development.
“South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are currently experiencing power shortages, which are driving the cost of production through the roof and slagging economic growth and accelerating poverty.
“This calamitous situation presents a barrier to economic growth and development in the SADC countries’ economic linkages, hence the need for improved investment in sound infrastructure,” said Mr Dzirutwe.
The event, which will be running under the theme; “Infrastructure key to Economic Growth and Shared Prosperity”, will unveil various infrastructural opportunities in the three countries covering a number of sectors — encompassing water and sanitation, roads and rail, tourism,housing and ICT.
Generally, the summit will discuss issues around improvement of trade synergies, favourable policies — attracting investors for various infrastructure projects, structural challenges and solutions to ensure competitiveness with diversification amongst others.
Ministers of Energy Infrastructure Development, from the three countries and Diplomats from Russia and the UK are expected to grace the summit.
Chief executive officers from Distributed Power Africa, Liquid Telecommunications, MTN, DBSA, Exim-bank of India, Exim-bank of Russia are also expected at the occasion.
South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have all been making strides in promoting the resort town of Victoria Falls and consequently the summit presents an opportunity by investors to weigh areas of potential in this town.
Tourism infrastructure in the area requires upgrading with a view to draw more visitors being the main purpose in growing the national tourism purse.