UAE’s Masdar to Develop 2 GW of Solar Projects in Zambia

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Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco), a state-owned power utility, signed a memorandum of understanding and joint development agreement with Masdar, the UAE-government-owned renewable energy company, for a capital investment of $2 billion to develop solar projects in the country.

The companies will form a joint venture to deploy 2 GW of large-scale solar projects in the country over the next few years.

The new capacity additions are expected to play a significant role in ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply to Zambia, which currently has only 3.5 GW of electricity supply to rely on.

The construction of the projects is expected to commence immediately and will be completed in a phased manner, starting with 500 MW of phased installations.

The agreement marks another major investment by Masdar in the clean energy sector. The company has recently announced a series of investments into renewable energy projects worldwide.

In a social media post, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema said, “With this projected increase in electricity supply, Zambians shall be assured of even more accelerated economic development and increased employment opportunities for our citizens. This is not a loan but a capital injection in which the Zambian people, through Zesco, will be partners in shareholding.”

Zesco said, “This development casts a ray of light on the quest to move away from the legacy of over-reliance on hydropower generation which has seasonally failed to yield adequate power to meet demand resulting from the decline of rainfall occasioned by climatic change.”

The company anticipates these projects to help improve power security, resulting in more investments and economic growth for Zambia.

The last time the state utility company signed a similar agreement was in 2020 when Zesco and Power Construction Corporation of China signed three contracts worth $548 million to develop 600 MW grid-connected solar power projects in Zambia.

In a research published in Nature Energy in October last year, a team of 40 African researchers claimed that the immense benefits of a high renewable energy share in the African energy mix are indisputable, but the objective can be met only by adopting a country and context-specific strategy instead of treating the continent as a monolith.

According to a report published early last year by the International Renewable Energy Agency in collaboration with the African Development Bank, a calibrated policy framework centered on renewable energy could help resolve many of Africa’s social, economic, health, and environmental challenges.