Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe’s power imports declined by almost 50 percent during the second quarter of the year after the country’s power utility increased generation at Kariba plant.
Zesa Holdings increased output at Kariba Power Station after switching on the second unit following the completion of expansion of the country’s largest hydro plant in March this year.
The first of the two units — constructed under the $550 million expansion project— had already started delivering electricity onto the national grid since December last year.
Both units produce 300 MW, with installed capacity of the plant now nearly 1 600 MW.
Zesa chief executive Josh Chifamba, said in an interview power imports almost halved in the second quarter as the country was now importing electricity for shorter periods.
“We have significantly reduced power imports in the second quarter (compared to the first quarter) because we are now getting optimum output from Kariba,” said Chifamba.
Kariba would maintain higher production levels after Zambezi River Authority raised water allocation to the plant, said Chifamba adding the utility was now “receiving adequate supplies to keep us at optimum production.” ZRZ manages Lake Kariba on behalf of Zimbabwe and Zambia, which also rely on the dam for electricity.
Zimbabwe is working on increasing power production to alleviate shortfalls and able to meet expected growing demand to be driven by improved economic activity.
Analysts say increasing local generation capacity will auger well with Zimbabwe’s expected trajectory to be characterised by rebound in most economic sectors.
The expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station — projected to add 600 MW onto the national grid in Zimbabwe — at an estimated cost of $1,5 billion has already started.
In the medium term, Hwange and Kariba are expected to make Zimbabwe self-sufficient in electricity. Apart from Government projects, a couple of local companies are also looking at investing in the country’s power sector, taking advantage of abundance of fossil fuels.
The billion-dollar projects include thermal plants by mining companies include RioZim, Karo Resources, Makomo Resources the Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company.
A number of renewable energy projects are also at different stages on implementation.
Zimbabwe still imports electricity from Eskom of SA and Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique to meet national shortfall but mostly during peak periods.