Water levels continue to rise at Kariba dam in Southern Africa

Kariba-Dam
Kariba-Dam

Water level at Kariba dam has continued rising steadily. It closed the period under review at 478.87m (23.68% usable storage) on 20th April 2020. Last year on the same date, the Lake level was higher at 480.43m (35.03% usable storage).

The continued increase of water levels brings a ray of hope to power struggling Zambia and Zimbabwe, who are currently failing to generate enough electricity due to the decrease of water levels at Kariba Dam. Because of the 2018/19 drought, water levels at Kariba Dam dropped by over three metres, leaving the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) with no option than to reduce water volumes for Zambia and Zimbabwe’s hydro power generation, on which the two countries depend on for electricity.

Also Read: Zimbabwe imports 300MW of electricity from regional power pool

The world’s biggest man-made reservoir

Zimbabwe and Zambia rely on Kariba dam, the world’s biggest man-made reservoir for most of their electricity supply, but were last year forced to cut back power generation from the dam as water levels fell drastically. The water levels at Kariba are mainly influenced by inflows into Lake Kariba from Zambezi River and its tributaries located in the Kariba catchment.

Last May, Zimbabwe was forced to introduce 18-hour daily power cuts and struggled to import electricity from neighbouring countries to plug the shortfall. At the end of March this year, the flows on the Zambezi River recorded in Victoria Falls were 54% above the long-term average and way higher than last year’s flows during the same period. But even with more water, the Zambezi River Authority said it would limit Zimbabwe and Zambia’s electricity generating capacity to 275MW each for now in an effort to ensure build-up of the reservoir storage.

Zimbabwe has installed electricity generating capacity of 1,050MW in Kariba. Power cuts hit the country’s struggling economy hard as companies lost production time while others had to invest in alternative sources of fuel.

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