By Anyway Yotamu
Old Mutual today marked a key milestone in its journey towards providing clean sustainable energy for all its buildings when the company held the ground-breaking ceremony of the Mutual Gardens Solar Project in Harare.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Samuel Matsekete, the Old Mutual Group Chief Executive Officer said the occasion was historic as the company was taking huge strides towards providing cleaner, affordable and reliable power as part of its vast property portfolio.
“I am glad you took time out of your busy schedules to be part of this momentous occasion. As Old Mutual, we have challenged ourselves to find alternative ways of delivering value to our stakeholders, through innovation as required in our current environment. The Mutual Gardens Solar Project comes at the most appropriate and opportune time to shed off huge costs associated with diesel-powered generators and also push the green economy agenda which should be a stepping stone to sustaining future generations,” Matsekete said.
He said that alleviating the burden on the national energy grid cannot be understated, and measures to address it is a must for any business.
“As a financial services player, we are also alive to the market’s expectations regarding driving and harnessing investments towards the alternative energy industry. This realisation was the compelling rationale behind the Kupinga Hydro Energy plant in Chipinge which we commissioned in 2017. Since inception, The Kupinga Hydro Energy plant is contributing 1. 6MW of energy into the national grid.”
Over the last two decades, calls for “Going Green” have been gaining momentum globally. Today, the “Going Green” concept is now a central theme and a topical issue in most global government policymaking processes, United Nations’ gatherings and many other prominent international fora. In the past, Old Mutual has championed the initiative on the local property landscape through the iconic and award-winning Eastgate Mall.
The Eastgate Mall building was designed by the internationally-acclaimed Pearce McCormish architects. One of the building’s most outstanding “Green” features is its natural air-cooling system. This system does away with electrical air conditioners and the unnecessary waste they create.
Matsekete said Mutual Gardens is not the first building to adopt solar energy. The Eastgate Market generates 100kW of electricity from solar panels which were incorporated in the design to power essential loads.
“Going green is indeed a path we have chosen to walk until we satisfy ourselves that our business, our clients and society at large have benefited immensely from this noble initiative, in an era where there is a global focus on sustainability. I have been advised that the whole works program of Mutual Gardens Solar Project will run for 25 weeks. This means we should be able to commission this plant in August 2020.”
Rutendo Magorimbo, the Old Mutual General Manager said the solar plant will have an installed capacity of 650kW – which is enough to cover all the electricity needs for the entire office complex at any given time.
“We believe that investment in solar energy will not only help in the fight against climate change, but will reduce the cost of doing business in the long run, provide our tenants with a reliable source of energy and an inflation hedging asset for the pension funds invested in the Life company. With that in mind, we shall be rolling out similar projects to this one to our other buildings in due course,” Magorimbo said.