UAE firm to use Zim as SADC springboard

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

UAE firm to use Zim as SADC springboard 
President Mnangagwa greets United Arab Emirates Sheikh Ahmed Bin Faisal Al Qassimi during a courtesy call at the State House in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Innocent Makawa.

Wallace Ruzvidzo-Herald Reporter

THE establishment of a cable manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe by Dubai-based investors will help create jobs and boost the country’s economy, President Mnangagwa has said.

Yesterday, Zimbabwe and United Arab Emirates-based partners from the Office of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Faisal Al-Qassimi entered into a joint venture, which will see the country manufacturing electricity cables, significantly enhancing operational capabilities and infrastructure.

“This morning, I had a productive meeting with His Highness Sheik Ahmed Bin Faisal Al Qassimi of the UAE and his delegation. We are excited about plans to establish a cable manufacturing plant in partnership with ZESA Holdings. This investment will create jobs and strengthen our economy,” wrote President Mnangagwa on his official X handle.

In an interview after their closed-door meeting with the President at State House, the president of the board in the Office of His Highness Al Qassimi, Dr Marcin Lapa, said the strategic venture was a momentous milestone that would significantly aid Zimbabwe’s rural electrification drive.

President Mnangagwa has outlined that total electrification, even in the most remote of areas, is a key tenet in the attainment of Vision 2030.

“We have been present in Zimbabwe for the last five years, with our first visit being in 2019. We decided to headquarter our operations, as the office of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Al-Qassimi, here in Harare. So today we mark a massive milestone. We are about to establish the first joint venture that will support the Presidential programme of electrification of rural areas,” he said.

“We are headquartered in the UAE, but with global presence in more than 30 countries, with the headquarters for Southern Africa being in Zimbabwe.”

Dr Lapa said once the manufacturing plant is up and running, the next phase will be the setting up of a smart meter factory.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) last year launched a prepaid and smart metering roll-out programme, as it seeks to curb growing debt risks due to payments default by major electricity consumers.

“We are starting with the cables factory that will be, in the next phase, supplemented by the factory of smart meters,” he said.

Dr Lapa said they would also venture into various Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, such as electrifying schools in remote areas.

“The energy sector is our first destination but at the same time, in giving back to the community, we are working closely with the Ministry of Education to bring more value to the schools, students and universities.

“Together with ZESA Holdings, our plan is to start the electrification of the schools across remote areas, bring connectivity as well as devices; laptops, tablets for the students to give them world class education,” he said.

Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister Yeukai Simbanegavi said the joint venture would go a long way in upgrading the country’s electricity infrastructure.

“We appreciate this joint venture because this is going to ensure that we upgrade our electricity infrastructure systems, we are looking into the production of new cables that will replace the old ones that we used to have. This will also promote our agriculture and improve our industrial manufacturing.

“This project is going to be stationed at one of our ZESA depots and we will be discussing with ZESA and more details will be coming,” she said.

Modalities for the smart metering, said deputy Minister Simbanegavi, would also be worked out.

“As the Ministry of Energy, we appreciate this investment into cable manufacturing.

“We were also discussing the issues of smart metering, which is very important as we look into diversification of electricity infrastructure development,” she said.

ZESA executive chairman Dr Sydney Gata said such projects were in tandem with the country’s developmental efforts.

He said production of cables would commence in nine months.

“We have commissioned a new company that will manufacture all our aluminium conductors and cables, this country needs thousands of kilometres of cables to replace the old ones which keep blowing up during the rainy seasons.

“We also want to expand electricity supply services to the rest of the country within five or six years, it’s a target that is possible. Our translation of Vision 2030 in the electricity sector is total electrification. It is onerous but it can be done.

“This project has told us that we can manufacture very sophisticated equipment here in Zimbabwe, it has confirmed to us the possibility that we can be self-sufficient in the supply of the hardware,” he said.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Torerayi Moyo said it was encouraging to note that schools would also benefit from the joint venture.

“As the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we stand to benefit immensely through the establishment of a plant which will be constructed in Bulawayo. The plant will produce computers, laptops and tablets. Those are very important to us because it is our dream as a ministry to ensure that every learner from ECD A up to Form 6 should have a tablet.

“By establishing a plant, it means we are going to cut down on costs and it means we are able to buy them cheaply.

“We are going to bridge the gap in terms of disparities between rural and urban schools, rural schools are normally left behind so through this innovation we are going to benefit immensely,” he said.

The initiative is a result of successful collaboration between ZESA Holdings and the private Office of His Highness Al-Qassimi, facilitated by the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA).