City of Harare has commissioned a pioneer solar street lighting project, which has already seen the installation of 870 lights along seven city roads through a joint venture with private firm, Primedia.
Authorities say the $6 million Private Public Partnership (PPP) will help cut costs in terms of the city’s energy bills and also ensure continued street lighting even during times of load-shedding.
City roads whose electricity-powered lights have so far been replaced with those using solar energy include: Samora Machel, Robert Mugabe, Simon Muzenda, Julius Nyerere and Borrowdale.
The agreement states that the private funder manages the lights for the next 15 years and will recoup their costs through the selling of advertising space on the street lights polls.
Already the largest solar street lighting project in the country, city authorities say they aim to install 10,000 street lights by the end of 2017 through more partnerships with other private players.
Under this initiative some of the street lights in the CBD also will also become solar powered. Harare’s teaming CBD – which currently has significantly large areas in darkness at night time, requires 4,000 street lights.
The project, according to Harare’s public works department, means the city will save in excess of $2 million annually on maintenance costs and energy bills.
Speaking during the commissioning event at Town House, Councillor Samuel Chinyowa, who represented the Mayor, said solar street lighting was in line with the city’s desire to ensure all public spaces were safe for residents.
He added: “The adoption of solar street lights is a step in the right direction as we also try to reduce our carbon footprint as a local authority. Most modern cities have switched to using green energy, which is more sustainable and assists in lighting against the global environment phenomenon, climate change.”
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Christopher Chingosho, said street lighting was a key pillar in city safety concepts and urged city managers to focus on residential areas, where street lighting remained a challenge.
“In addition to the value of relying purely on green energy, the illumination of city streets brings several benefits to streets populated by businesses. Additional lighting allows for increased trading and economic activity,” Chingosho said.
“The economic activity will in turn increase revenue for the street. The project, apart from lighting the city, also has benefits to corporate entities, which have been given a platform to market their products and increase brand visibility,” he said.
Chingosho added that he hoped that a significant reduction in the city’s energy costs would allow the cash-strapped authority to channel more funding towards service delivery which has been weighed down over the years by the city’s huge labour costs.
Central government has prescribed a 30:70 expenditure ratio in favour of service delivery, which most local authorities have struggled to comply with.
Image: Installing solar street lights on one of Harare’s roads. (Harry Davies)