The Sunday Mail
Nomagugu Konke and Lissa Ngorima
Zimbabwe’s electricity challenges have eased following injection of 150 megawatts into the national grid upon completion of Phase One of the US$355 million Kariba South Hydro-Power Station Expansion project.
Information gathered last week shows that another 150MW will be added within two months when the 40-month project will be complete.
The Sunday Mail understands Unit 7 is “technically open”, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa will commission it next month.
Zimbabwe requires an average 1 400MW during peak periods, but has been generating below 1 056MW.
Zesa Holdings spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira told this paper, “Unit 7 is expected to be officially commissioned in February following the technical commissioning which was done on the 24th of December last year.
“The technical opening followed the process of assuring that all systems and components of the machine are designed, installed, tested, operated and maintained according to the operational requirements of the final user — the Zimbabwe Power Company.
“Unit 7 has lessened the burden of importing power from neighbouring countries as has been the norm over the past few years and this is going to meet the country’s demand for power.
“The duration of the project was 40 months and is expected to end on the 10th of March with the completion of the second unit (Unit 8) which is going to be added on the national grid, bringing the total generation capacity to 1 050 megawatts.”
Zimbabwe imports 300MW from Eskom of South Africa and 50MW from Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa.
At least 70 percent of the country’s electricity is used in the productive sector.
According to ZPC, about 2 029 gigawatt hours were generated in the third quarter of 2017 against a target of 2 124GWh.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has licensed 33 independent power producers since 2013, and eight of them are already feeding into the national grid.
Acting Zera chief executive Mr Eddington Mazambani said, “45 IPPs applied for licences from January 2013 to December 2017. Of these, 33 were licensed by Zera during the same period. Of the licensed projects, 13 are operating; of which five are generating for own consumption while eight are generating and feeding power into the national grid.
“The 13 licensed and operational projects are valued at slightly over US$100 million. Two projects are expected to be commissioned during the course of this year, 2018. The two projects have a total capacity of about 4.8MW.”