By Pamenus Tuso
The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted Bulawayo’s US$150, million solid waste-to-energy project, which is being developed by a United Kingdom-based company, Pragma Leaf Consulting Zimbabwe.
The government has already granted the project national status.
The project, which will, among other things, convert council waste to biodiesel and electricity and biogas, is expected to bridge the energy gap in the country while creating more than 2,000 jobs.
In an interview with GovernanceWatch, Pragma Leaf Consulting chairperson, Graciano Takawira, said the project‘s timelines, especially the completion of the Front-End Engineering Design study (FEED) which include updating of the characterisation of the city waste and completion of the environmental impact assessment(EIA), have been affected by the global pandemic.
“The original plan for 2020 was to bring a team of engineers to complete that FEED study. A foundational aspect of the FEED would be the analysis of waste to update information we gathered from the 2012 study.
“This was rendered impossible due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions,” Takawira said.
As a result of the Covid-19 travel embargoes, the chairperson said the company was forced to engage the National University for Science and Technology’s (NUST) Chemical Engineering Department to carry out the waste characterisation study, which involved waste streams deposited at council’s Richmond Sanitary Lane.
The study was completed on October 22 this year.
Takawira also revealed that the company has roped in France- and Netherlands-based companies to boost the project financially and technically.
“We have signed a technical agreement with South Africa based Co-Ash Resources (Pvt) Ltd bringing France-based SATAREM, Amre Holdings and Siemens into the project.
“We feel that having strong technical partners who pass due diligence checks through their verifiable footprint will give the project strength and depth,” he said.
“We have also signed with Netherlands based Geo Power … for a US$50 million investment in the project.”
Takawira said the company is targeting the first quarter of 2021 for the completion of mobilisation of the project’s financial modalities.
“It is our hope that work on finalising the financial modalities for the project will proceed in the first quarter of 202, all things being equal, subject to Covid-19 restrictions,” he said.
It is anticipated that when fully functional, the project will process 325 tonnes of waste per day and generate 78,000 to 110,000 litres of biodiesel per day, 600 cubic metres of biogas as well as 1,135 Megawatts (MW) of electricity.
The project also has the capacity to produce organic compost from 20% organic waste generated.