HARARE - China Africa Sunlight Energy (Caseco) — a joint venture between Chinese Shandong Taishan Sunlight Investment Company and Zimbabwe’s Oldstone Investments — plans a $2 billion investment in the country over the next 12 years.
The Asian group is currently finalising a $1,3 billion loan from Export-Import Bank of China that will see commencement of an integrated coal mining and electricity generation project.
Isaac Chihuri, Caseco’s company secretary, said they intended to embark on various projects in the investment-starved country, including brick moulding, cement manufacturing, fertilizer production, a gas power station, liquid fuel and coke production among others.
“These projects will bring about huge Foreign Direct Investment which should create many new jobs, transform the country’s economy through energy provision and create up-steam and downstream Linkages,” he said.
The company’s thermal coal mine is expected to produce 5,4 million tonnes per year and will gobble over $400 million, while Gwayi thermal power plant requires at least $600 million.
Energy experts believe, because of its coal deposits, Zimbabwe has the capacity to become the largest independent power producing country in the region outside South Africa, but capacity constraints hamper exploration and exports.
Caseco’s other ventures such as a coal washing plant, coking coal plant, methane coal bed gas extraction and an agrochemical processing plant will use up to $240 million.
Its cement production, brick moulding, tar production and liquid fuel projects among others require over $750 million.
Chihuri noted that the company will work with environmental agencies in the country to ensure that its projects do not pollute the environment.
“It is therefore naïve to think that this level of development will not have some environmental issues.
“We understand the importance of best practice to environmental approaches to sustainable development hence our focus will be on mitigation measures,” he said.
Industry experts say the investment is welcome in the landlocked southern African country that has a peak electricity demand of 2 100 MW but is able to produce only 1 200 MW, with another 300 MW coming from imports, mainly from neighbouring Mozambique.
This comes as China is also speeding ahead with projects worth tens of billions of dollars to electrify Africa.
In Zimbabwe, China has been the main source of foreign investments to the country.
Last year, Chinese investment accounted for 72 percent of the more than $900 million dollars foreign invested-projects approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority.