Last year in March we reported on a trial run of four solar powered street lights in the CBD. This pilot initiative was a success and the project is forging ahead with widespread installation starting last month.
The project is being funded by Lamise Investments, a Zambian firm that will use the street light poles for advertising for the next 15 years. A total of 4,000 solar street lights will be installed in the City at a cost of $15 million. This means they must recoup $250 per streetlight per year in advertising fees to cover costs.
Council has struggled to maintain Harare’s street lighting over the years – a problem exacerbated by the old age of the existing lights. Load shedding is also a problem that Council has struggled with.
City of Harare principal communications officer Michael Chideme said by using green energy, the City is following international trends in other cities meeting the World Class criteria
“We are now using smart energy to power streets lights and this will reduce council’s electricity bill. The solar street lights will belong to Harare soon after installation and council will be responsible for repairs and looking after the lights,” explained Chideme.
Chideme revealed that council also intends to install solar power on all traffic lights, saying, “The installations have already started along Robert Mugabe Way, where a total of 64 solar lights will be installed. Samora Machel Avenue will be next.”
Some residents told Harare News that the adoption of solar energy was a good move by council. Mukai Mangawa (29) from Mufakose, who believes in protecting the environment, said that the installation of solar street lights will be of great benefit to the City.
“I feel that Harare is going in the right direction. Besides providing lighting on the streets at night, the City will also greatly reduce its carbon footprint,” said Mangawa.
Marvellous Banda (36) from Mabvuku concurred with Mangawa saying that the installation of solar street lights was welcome and shows that the leadership is at last doing something to develop the City.
“It is really refreshing to see new equipment such as the solar street lights being installed, it shows that Harare is now following international trends of using renewable energy. The use of solar to power the street lights also means that the lights will not be affected by load shedding,” said Banda.
However, some residents have raised concerns on the issues of technical expertise on the part of council to look after the solar units as council is said to be struggling to maintain solar traffic lights that were installed in Mount Pleasant late last year.
“I have noticed that the lights that they installed at the junction of Quorn Avenue and the Chase are not working sometimes. So I am not sure if our council technicians have enough knowledge to deal with the solar units,” said one resident.
The use of solar power has been touted by many as a solution to the country’s electricity shortages. Environmentalists have also weighed in saying that solar energy – with applications in residential, commercial, and industrial purposes – provides a clean and renewable energy which is not harmful to the environment. Green energy has taken off in countries such as Japan and Germany, where subsidies for it have stimulated huge demand and roll out.