Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
President Mnangagwa has hailed Matabeleland North province for leading in the socio-economic transformation of the country through initiatives such as electricity generation and water projects.

By 2023, Zimbabwe should be a net exporter of power as the power projects in Matabeleland North take shape.

The construction of two units that will add 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid from Hwange Power Station is 70 percent complete while various investors in the same area are at different stages of building power plants that will contribute in excess of 3 000 MW in the medium term.

There is also the Lupane methane gas project which is expected to commence early 2021.

The province has potential to be the leading foreign currency earner for the country in the next two years.

It is also home to the Gwayi/Shangani Dam, the final component of the $1,2 billion National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) that is envisaged to permanently end Bulawayo’s perennial water problems and create an agricultural green belt from the dam right up to Bulawayo.

President Mnangagwa said he spent two and half days in Matabeleland North province and only managed to see about nine economic projects out of 14 which he was supposed to visit and assess progress.

Addressing the Zanu PF Midlands Provincial Coordinating Committee meeting at the party’s provincial headquarters at the Winery Convention Centre in Gweru on Saturday, President Mnangagwa urged other provinces like Midlands to take a leaf from Matabeleland North province which he said was a shining example in terms of implementing vibrant and viable projects.

“I spent two and half days in Matabeleland North province. I saw nine projects in two days and was left to see five projects. Here in the Midlands province, I have never been invited to commission even one project. Of the nine, five of them after 2023, will be giving us 6 900 megawatts of power.

This country needs about 2 000 MW, let’s say in two years’ time demand for energy increases to 3 000MW, we will have an extra 3 500MW from Matabeleland North alone after meeting the national demand.

“This means the country will be exporting power and earning the much needed foreign currency. We haven’t even touched or looked at the coal and the gas they have. So potential in Matabeleland North is so huge. I am only referring to what I saw,” he said.

During his visit to Matabeleland North, President Mnangagwa toured — Localise Western Areas, Jinan, Dinson Colliery, ZhongXin Coking Company (ZZCC), Zambezi Gas and ZZEE.

Localise Western Areas, in addition to supplying coal for Hwange Power Station’s two new units (Unit 7 and Unit 8), will construct a 600MW power plant.

Jinan will also put up a plant of the same capacity.

Dinson Colliery, which is a coal mining unit of Tsingshan (the biggest steel producer in the world), intends to build a 600MW plant in two phases. It will also supply coal to the steel plant that will be established by its parent company in Zimbabwe next year.

Overall, power generated from the hydrocarbon and coal activities presently underway will cumulatively inject more than 3 000MW to the grid.

Additional contributions are expected from renewable energy projects such as solar, some of which are already underway.