Lesotho signs $ 15 bn water and wind energy deal
Lesotho has signed a $ 15 bn (EUR 11 bn) renewable energy deal with a South African company in the country's largest-ever private investment, officials said.
"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.
The Lesotho Highlands Power Project (LHPP) will generate 6,000 MW of wind power and 4,000 MW 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, Lesotho's natural resources minister Monyane Moleleki said.
Harrison & White Investments and the government of Lesotho will provide equity finance, while unnamed Chinese firms will provide loans, Harrison & White said.
"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 at the signing ceremony in the capital Maseru.
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-MW wind farm, with construction set to start next year.
The project will be Lesotho's largest investment since its EUR 6 bn 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 1,000-MW power station expected to cost $ 993 mm.