Zimbabwe seeks to ramp up imports as power crisis deepens

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government on Tuesday said it would import more power and ramp up local production to ease power cuts lasting up to 18 hours daily.

The country was producing just 494 megawatts of power on Tuesday, against peak demand of 2,200 MW.

Following a cabinet meeting in Harare, energy ministry secretary Gloria Magombo told journalists that the government was targeting increased imports from neighbouring Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa.

The government was also boosting coal supply to small thermal power stations while also expediting the commissioning of Hwange Unit 7, a new 300 MW generator constructed by China’s Sinohydro.

Zimbabwe was last week restricted to 300 MW power production at Kariba due to water levels, losing about 400 MW in the process.

The low production has triggered severe power cuts across the country, with many households without power during the day.

“Additional imports will be critical to support the existing imports which we are getting from South Africa’s Eskom, EDM and HCB of Mozambique and Zambia,” Magombo said.

“Zambia and South Africa will continue giving us up to 100 MW each whilst HCB is giving us 50 MW and EDM will be ramping up from the current 10 MW to 50 MW. We have an agreement to increase further (with EDM) by an additional 150 MW.”

Magombo said the ministry’s priority was to ensure that the thermal power stations, including Hwange which constantly breaks down, are well maintained.

“In the long term, over US$400 million was secured to improve capacity in Bulawayo and Hwange. At Hwange power station, the life extension project has started with Unit 5 which has been out due challenges with its turbines earlier this year,” she said.

“We have also been ramping up production for the small thermals in Bulawayo, Harare and Munyati to push them to 45MW. Coal supplies are currently being expedited and there is a train with over 30 wagons to power stations to ensure that there is more production.”

She said the new 300MW Hwange Unit 7 was expected to be synchronised to the system by Christmas – but that would only be enough to fill the gap caused by limited power production at Kariba.

“Unit 8 is also being developed in parallel (to Unit 7) and we expect that it will be commissioned during the first quarter of 2023,” she said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday said power utility ZESA would be allowed to raise tariffs further to fund imports.

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