The installation of solar power at the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) Regional Campuses is part of the University’s plan to ensure uninterrupted and sustainable supply of electricity to staff and students in the face of occasional outages of electricity power supplied by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).
The Mashonaland West project is the first in a phased approach to the solarisation of the University’s Regional Campuses. The project will improve e-Learning by ensuring continuous and efficient service delivery, reduce costs on electricity, enhance security through lighting within the campus, which is home to hundreds of students in the Mashonaland West Province, thus, bringing convenience in the absence of ZESA power. The installation and capacity testing was done by the University Electrician to certify the works.
The solarisation project augurs well for the University and echoes the sentiments made by the ZOU Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Henry Gundani, at the 17th Graduation Ceremony held in November 2019, where he bemoaned the chronic shortage of electricity as a major impediment to the teaching and learning in an ODeL environment. He appealed to the Government, private sector and civil society for investment in renewable energy, based on solar, wind and other forms of clean energy. Professor Gundani referred to the Dubai Energy Plan that looks up to renewable energy for its post-oil future. For Zimbabwe, Professor Gundani argued that it was important to plan for a sustainable post fossil fuel and a post hydro-electricity age. He noted;
“Teaching and learning in an ODeL environment would be enhanced with the building of solar parks. ... Such solar installations would indeed go a long way towards providing light to the many teaching centres, science laboratories, libraries, computer labs, among others, as well as driving the electronic technologies that both educators and students use. Such an approach would also go a long way towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4, that is, ‘inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities”.
The ZOU staff members who went to Chinhoyi to witness the solarisation project were, the Director in the Vice Chancellor’s Office, Dr. Eurita Nyamanhare, Director, Infrastructure and Estates Management, Ms. Sheila Jeyi, and the Transport Officer, Mr. Patson Mujima.
The Acting Regional Director, Mr Ayiri Gudyanga, who was in the company of the Acting Administration Officer, Mr. Ceaser Matare, was grateful to management for the installation of the solar power saying that the gesture would provide the Regional Campus with sustainable lighting and energy solutions as the institution moves to embrace smart energy solutions that are more environmentally friendly.
The University is currently mobilizing resources to finalise the refurbishment of the Regional Campus to accommodate the Library and Computer Laboratory for the convenience of our learners.