Govt to revive fuel plant

THE Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education intends to resuscitate a key fuel plant at Feruka as well as develop a solar energy project as part of its 100-day work plan, among other key policy programmes under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, a senior official has said.

By Tinashe Kairiza

Shortly after being inaugurated last year, Mnangagwa assigned cabinet ministers to identify key policy deliverables that government ministries should attain within his first 100 days in office.

The demanding 100-day work plans, which are premised around Mnangagwa’s quest to usher Zimbabwe’s economy into a “new economic order”, are tailored around improving service delivery and production.

Mnangagwa, who assumed Zimbabwe’s presidency after the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe on the back of military intervention, has said his new government will pursue politics that seek to turnaround the country’s fragile economy.

Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira said his ministry will work towards revitalising a coal liquefication plant at Feruka, in a bid to reduce Zimbabwe’s fuel and energy import bill.

Liquefication is a scientific process of converting coal into various energy sources such as petrol, diesel and oxygen.
“We are working on a project at Feruka that had stalled to convert coal into diesel and oxygen. We are reviving an energy project that had stalled,” Murwira said.

He added that once revived, the coal-to-diesel plant could help the country, a net fuel importer, to save scarce foreign currency.

Murwira said his ministry had also crafted a programme to develop a solar map that would guide Zimbabwe’s plans to set up sunlight farms.

The southern African country, he said, had immense capacity to harness solar energy.

“We are also going to develop a solar energy map to determine where we can set up solar farms. The map would help us to direct investment to the proper areas. The map will tell us the cloudless areas in Zimbabwe like Hwange,” Murwira said, adding that with such data the country could negotiate for investment from a position of strength.

As part of its 100-day work plan, he said, the ministry would also undertake a “skills audit in science and technology”.

Murwira emphasised that government would not abandon its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme which was highly popularised by the then Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo under Mugabe’s administration.
The STEM programme, initiated in 2016, avails fully funded scholarships to students studying Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology at Advanced Level.

Other priority areas that the ministry would work to achieve within the next 100 days of Mnangagwa’s presidency include the setting up of six information communication technology (ICTs) hubs at six state universities in Zimbabwe.

The ICTs centres will be set up at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), University of Zimbabwe and Chinhoyi University of Technology, among other institutions of higher learning.

Murwira said his ministry was also working towards “developing a science development programme on food security.”

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