Zambia awards three joint ventures 120 MW solar power tender

LUSAKA: Zambia has awarded three regional and international companies a total of 120 megawatts (MW) of solar power projects, a senior government official said on Friday.

Zambia is heavily dependent on hydropower and following a drought in 2016 an electricity shortage rocked Africa's second-largest copper producer, forcing it to ration power supply to the mines.

The southern African nation has since stepped up efforts to diversify to other forms of renewable energy apart from hydropower.

Energy Permanent Secretary Emeldah Chola told journalists the three joint ventures would build six projects with a capacity of 20 MW each.

Chola said the government had initially wanted developers to build 100 MW of solar power projects but expanded the scope to 120 MW.

"This is the largest single Solar PV tender implemented in sub-Saharan Africa to date outside of South Africa," Chola said.

Zambia aims to develop 600 MW of on-grid solar generation in the next two to three years. It launched the first 45 MW project in 2016, according to a ministry of energy investment plan released last year. 

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