Econet investing $250 million in solar power
Planning to create 5,000 new jobs in Zimbabwe
From mobile phones to solar panels, Zimbabwe’s largest telecom provider is investing $250 million dollars in the future of power solutions. It’s not only the sun that will be powering this energy shift, lithium is also going to be in high demand. Can Econet’s ambition for solar power dominance and Zimbabwe’s lithium manufacturing plans find common ground?
Why This Matters: Zimbabwe is headed for a game changing era as the global demand for lithium grows due to the need for solar energy and electric vehicle batteries. Econet is going to use this rising demand to create more than 5,000 new jobs in Zimbabwe over the next two years. Currently companies in Zimbabwe have already ordered over 20 MW of solar power from Econet.
Whether or not solar power will continue to be in demand is still a lingering question. For example, according to the fourth-quarter results from Tesla (TSLA -0.96%) its solar energy company SolarCity only installed 87 MW of power. SolarCity has seen a 57% decline in installations over the past six quarters. These type of numbers from a leading company in the solar industry should be alarming for Econet and Zimbabwe as they navigate the best approach for lithium. “It would make a lot of sense for Zimbabwe to position itself as a manufacturer of the finished products rather than as a miner of raw materials” said Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa.
Situational Awareness: From Cobalt to platinum and even lithium, African countries are at the epicenter for all groundbreaking technology. The government in these countries will really have to decide if they want to be miners or manufacturers. If they decided to become manufacturers they will need to come up with policies that would make it attractive to invest in on a large scale.
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