Maseru, Lesotho — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 31 October 2011 – The government of Lesotho has signed a US$15billion renewable energy deal with a South African company in the country’s largest-ever private investment transaction.
“The project aims to harness the natural resources of wind and water in Lesotho’s Maluti mountains to produce power that will be used by both Lesotho and South Africa,” Johannesburg-based Harrison & White Investments said here in a statement.
The Lesotho Highlands Power Project (LHPP) will generate 6 000 megawatts (MW) of wind power and 4 000MW of hydro-power “’ equivalent to nearly one-quarter of South Africa’s total current energy supply.
The scheme will create 25 000 jobs over 15 years, said Lesotho’s natural resources minister Monyane Moleleki.
Harrison & White Investments and the government of Lesotho will provide equity finance, while unnamed Chinese firms will provide loans, Harrison & White added.
“The project comes at a time in our history when our traditional income streams have dried up due largely to the global economic meltdown,” Moleleki said here.
The project aims to generate power from the Maluti Mountains’ wind and water resources, mainly for export to South Africa, which completely surrounds the tiny mountainous country.
The first phase of the project is a 150-megawatt wind farm, with construction set to start next year.
The project will be Lesotho’s largest investment since its US$8.5 billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project deal with South Africa undertaken in 1998.
South Africa and Lesotho in August agreed to launch the second phase of that project, with a new dam and a 1,000MW power station expected to cost US$993 million.