Zimbabwe imports 300MW of electricity from regional power pool

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Zimbabwe has started importing 300MW of electricity from a regional power pool in a US $15m deal, and is negotiating for another 400MW from South Africa, in a bid to end crippling power cuts.

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The power shortgae

Drought-induced low water levels at the Kariba hydro plant and ageing coal generators that keep breaking down have left Zimbabwe producing just half of its 1,700MW peak power demand, forcing the national utility to impose 18-hour power cuts.

According to Information and Broadcasting Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa power utility ZESA Holdings is now accessing 300MW during off-peak hours from the Southern African Power Pool, a regional industry collaboration linking up national grids which was created in 1995.

“This additional power is availed under a US $2m facility which was mobilised by ZESA from its own resources. I’m sure you have noticed we are getting our electricity earlier than before and it’s taking longer to go in the morning,” Mutsvangwa added.

Acting Energy Minister Sekai Nzenza said that the utility was negotiating with an unnamed local bank for a US $15m loan to pay South Africa’s Eskom, to unlock power supplies to Zimbabwe. Eskom, which is itself struggling to meet South Africa’s electricity needs and reported a US $1.5bn annual loss, had no immediate comment. Zimbabwe owes Eskom US $23m for previous power supplies after paying US $10m last month. “These initiatives that have been put in place will enable us to have more power,” Nzenza said.

According to ZESA’s acting chief executive said this month the utility required US $14m for monthly imports from the regional power market. Zimbabwe’s energy regulator is considering raising the electricity tariff to help loss-making ZESA raise money to buy spares for its coal generating plants as well as import more power.