Zimbabwe Will Import 400MW To Make Up For Its Power Deficit

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According to a senior official at state power firm Zesa Holdings, the company plans on importing power from Mozambique and Zambia of up to 400 megawatts, to help alleviate the country’s crippling power shortage.

This comes as Zimbabwe, which has been plagued by protracted periods of load shedding, has disclosed that it spends up to US$20 million per month on electricity imports, according to Zesa executive chairman Sydney Gata.

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In an interview last week, Dr. Gata claimed Zimbabwe was importing 200-400 megawatts from the area, blaming the situation in part on the Treasury’s failure to sign an independent power producer (IPP) implementation agreement.

According to reports, the deal would have sped up the construction of IPP projects with high output potential. In fact, according to Dr. Gata, Zimbabwe should be exporting extra power at the very least.

Zimbabwe’s power demand peaks at over 2 200 MW during the winter, while the nation can only produce approximately 1 400 MW due to limited installed capacity and unreliable infrastructure.

The difference between demand and supply is currently being narrowed through imports, which cost the government over $20 million per month, and load shedding, which lasts around 12 hours each day.

IPPs provided 20-35% of Zimbabwe’s energy imports from Zambia and Mozambique, according to Dr. Gata, while the sector’s contribution to domestic generation in Zimbabwe was a mere 1,5%.

According to the Zesa executive chairman, licensed IPPs in Zimbabwe can generate 6000MW, with a realistic chance of 600MW being realized.

Ensuring Adequate Power Supply

According to Dr. Gata, this amount was more than the country required to ensure adequate supply and eliminate costly imports, which are consuming large quantities of the FX industry’s badly needed capital.

Zimbabwe’s domestic currency is failing to hold steady against the greenback on the black market due to limited US dollar availability, which drives speculation that hurts the economy.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe conducts a weekly auction system, a primary source of inexpensive forex, but it has a roughly $200 million backlog due to hard currency shortages.

Dr Gata said the state power company has now made steps to mitigate the effect of the power shortage by obtaining imports from Mozambique’s EDM and Zambia’s ZESCO. He said Zesa had arranged 280 MW from Zambia and 180 MW from Mozambique, adding that the nation would begin receiving power shortly after clearing outstanding payments for previous supply.

The 1 050MW Kariba South power station, a hydroelectric facility, and the 900MW rate Hwange Power Station, which is coal-fired, are two of Zimbabwe’s biggest power-producing facilities.

While Kariba South faces difficulties operating at full capacity due to restricted water supply following two years of drought, Hwange is prone to breakdowns due to its age.

HPS, constructed in the mid-1980s, has outlived its original lifespan, reducing its dependability and production potential. When working at full capacity, it produces little over 450MW.

Since then, the government has hired Sinohydro of China to expand Hwange’s capacity by 600 MW. The project, which worldwide Covid-19 limitations have stalled, is now 72% complete and will be connected to the grid by the end of 2022.

Minor Thermal Power Plants

In particular, Zesa has made little headway on planned refurbishments of its minor thermal power plants in Bulawayo, Munyati, and Harare, each of which can generate 100 MW.

The Zimbabwean government collaborates with Zambia on the Batoka Gorge project, which may add 1 200 MW to the grid from Zimbabwean generators.

The deal’s parties have finished their feasibility and environmental effect assessments and are now working on obtaining funds for the project.

In February 2012, both nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project’s development. In April 2017, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group was designated as the project’s principal funder and coordinator.

Approximately 6 000 jobs are planned to be created as a result of the binational project.