Renewable energy sources key to growth

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Dear Editor
It is true that power cuts are indeed switching off economic growth. I highlighted this issue at the infrastructure workshop late last year organised by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.
I emphasised the fact that our economic plans are really a pie in the sky because without energy, there is no economy to talk about.
We need energy in all facets of our economy since energy is the heart that pumps the blood of economic activity. Energy should be the there all the time whenever it is required. It should also be reliable and clean energy.
However, in Zimbabwe, we seem to be completely missing out on this essential ingredient in growing our economy.
Yes, we have a lot of conferences and discussions talking about it but we never make concrete decisions on the way forward. Zimbabweans need to move away from conference-holders to doers.
One of the major risk factors for lack of investment by local and foreign investors here in Zimbabwe is lack of energy. Where there is no power, investments costs increase since one has to provide one’s own power or power back-up. To provide own power, at the moment, Zimbabweans are resorting to generators that run on diesel or petrol. When generators are run, they make a lot of noise, increasing our stress levels and making us all go crazy.
Worst still, these generators produce a lot of carbon dioxide and very soon, Zimbabwe will be a major emitter of green houses gases, which the whole world is fighting hard to reduce.
The next thing, we will be complaining that we are continuously having droughts, forgetting that we are contributing to the perennial droughts due to burning of candles, paraffin lamps (zvibani), burning wood for lighting and cooking, burning wood and coal for tobacco curing (getting worse now with the “sweet US dollar” that the tobacco farmers are earning) and now industry, mining, agriculture, tourism and institutions are installing generators for power generation or back-up.
The sad thing is that, all these activities just highlighted are all contributing to the increase in the green house gas emissions which we cannot absorb because our trees are continuously being depleted by cutting and we are not replacing them at a faster rate than we are cutting them.
Sounds really scary stuff, doesn’t it? Not at all at Solar Solutions Africa. This is exciting stuff to restore the planet to its origin when it was created by God. The good thing is that God has not switched off the sun. We have plenty of it in Zimbabwe, Sadc and Africa as a whole. Imagine what will happen if we all start harnessing (harvesting) the sun, storing it and using it for all the activities talked about above? Sounds exciting!
Everyone can harness the sun anywhere as long as it shining but how do we harness it? What happens when it is not there? Well, don’t worry. We don’t have to crack our heads anymore. The technologies are there for us to harness the sun. Why should we reinvent the wheel? What we just need to do is to leapfrog technology and mobilise all Zimbabweans to ride on the exciting, quiet, and clean Green Train.
I can already hear doubting Thomases among executives in industry saying: “My friend, but my mine needs 50MW of power. Can you provide me with a 50MW plant by “harvesting” the sun? Let alone, my friend, I need to run my mine for 24 hours. Surely you can’t do this with sun harvesting. Yes, you can. There are already power plants like that running in various parts of the world but unfortunately not in sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Because, yes, we brag that we are educated (especially in Zimbabwe) but unfortunately we do not apply what we have learnt at school. We moan and groan about our present circumstances and we are scared of a perceived dark future and yet God is asking us: “What are you doing with the many resources I gave you, including the sun? Use it, my sons and daughters, for your own benefit. I will never switch if off – a promise I have kept up to this day from the time when I created the world.”
Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, said after the invention of the wheel: “Invention is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”.
Zimbabweans are really inspired to build a great economy but as said by Edison, this only constitutes only 1% of the effort required to achieve that great economy.
We can only perspire by doing things, less conferencing and talking since we are already inspired.
We just need to organise ourselves and get to work again like our ancestors did.
I submitted a document to the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion after attending the infrastructure workshop late last year.
Flavian Gonese