Harare Waste-to-Energy Project Sparks Controversy

Costly Waste-to-Energy Project: Jobs or Exploitation?

by Victor Adetimilehin

A waste-to-energy project in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, has sparked heated debate. Geo Pomona Waste Management, a company with links to the government, is leading the US$350 million initiative. The project promises to revolutionize waste management in Harare by converting waste into electricity. However, the high cost, alleged lack of transparency, and potential downsides have raised concerns among residents and civil society organizations.

Jobs and Clean Energy vs. High Costs and Unclear Benefits

Geo Pomona, headed by Delish Nguwaya, a reported associate of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family, emphasizes the project’s potential for job creation and environmental improvement. The company highlights the construction of a sports complex and waste sorting facilities as evidence of their commitment to the community.

“We’re not just building a power plant,” Nguwaya said during a recent tour. “We’re building a world-class waste management facility that will create jobs and improve sanitation in Harare.”

Critics, however, remain skeptical. The Community Water Alliance (CWA), a civil society organization, questions the project’s true costs and benefits. The CWA argues that the proposed US$123 fee Geo Pomona wants to charge the city for waste collection is exorbitant, considering the waste itself fuels the energy generation process.

Nguwaya dismissed the CWA’s concerns, suggesting their founder, Hardlife Mudzingwa, is motivated by personal gain rather than genuine advocacy.

Transparency Concerns and Questions about Long-Term Impact

A significant concern surrounding the project is the lack of transparency. Geogenix BV, the Netherlands-registered company behind Geo Pomona, is owned by an Albanian businessman with a history of controversial waste management deals in other countries. Details about the project’s long-term environmental impact and the true financial burden on Harare remain unclear.

The Potential Benefits

Despite the controversy, the project holds undeniable potential. Upon completion, the plant’s 22-megawatt power generation capacity could significantly contribute to easing Zimbabwe’s ongoing energy crisis. Additionally, proper waste management can significantly improve public health and sanitation in Harare.

The success of the Harare waste-to-energy project hinges on addressing concerns about transparency, cost, and potential environmental impact. Ensuring the project benefits all of Harare, not just a select few, is crucial. Open communication with residents and independent assessments of the project’s environmental and financial implications are essential.

If Geo Pomona can demonstrate a genuine commitment to responsible development and transparency, the project can become a model for sustainable waste management in Africa. However, if the current concerns remain unaddressed, the project risks becoming a costly gamble that fails to deliver on its promises.

Collaboration for a Brighter Future

The project presents an opportunity for the government, Geo Pomona, and civil society organizations to work together. By fostering open communication, addressing concerns transparently, and prioritizing the well-being of Harare’s residents, all stakeholders can contribute to a project that delivers clean energy, creates jobs, and improves the city’s environment for generations to come.

Source: New Zimbabwe 

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