Zimbabwe still plans to engage with SA power utility Eskom in an effort to boost electricity imports despite the board of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) being fired for ‘incompetence’.
Officials from Zesa are set week meet with their counterparts at Eskom over US $33m in debt they owe the SA state power utility, as well as the need for increased electricity imports as the country’s power supply situation remains dire.
Zimbabwe started implementing load shedding in mid-May due to a combination of low water levels at Kariba Dam’s hydroelectric power plant, generation constraints at ageing power stations and limited foreign imports. In late May, Zimbabwe Energy Minister Fortune Chasi told Parliament Kariba could be forced to stop production within 14 weeks as a result of falling water levels.
“Board changes at Zesa will not stop plans to engage with Eskom. We still have an executive, and a team that will go ahead and engage Eskom. The team has been instructed to negotiate a payment plan and once a agreement has been reached, Zimbabwe hopes Eskom will boost exports to Zimbabwe by up to 400MW per day.” said Chasi.
The supplies is planned to be during off-peak periods and will allow Zimbabwe to shut off and conserve water at Kariba Dam.
Kariba dam stands at stands 128 metres (420 ft) tall and 579 metres (1,900 ft) long. The dam forms Lake Kariba which extends for 280 kilometres (170 mi) and holds 185 cubic kilometres (150,000,000 acre•ft) of water. Two views of the dam as seen from Zimbabwe.
Plans to rehabilitate the dam started in 2014 after experts advised that it should be repaired after cracks emerged on its walls. Experts had warned that the Africa’s largest man-made lake, which measures 226 kilometers long and in some places 40 kilometers wide, would collapse if nothing was done to repair it.
Rehabilitation works on the project include; reshaping of the plunge pool downstream of the dam wall, which commenced in 2017, and the rehabilitation of the spillway. The spillway consists of the six gates in the upper part of the concrete dam wall through which the ZRA releases water into the plunge pool to manage the reservoir water levels.
According to Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa, CE of the Zambezi River Authority, the spillway rehabilitation will ensure the continued safe, controlled release of water from the reservoir when this is required. It will restore the Kariba Dam to full operability and ensure its continued contribution to energy security and economic growth, prosperity and poverty alleviation in the southern African region.