Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter—
GOVERNMENT has covered significant ground towards striking a framework agreement with South Africa for deeper cooperation on a number of energy related issues, Energy and Power Development secretary Patson Mbiriri said.
The country already imports significant amounts of electricity from South African state power utility Eskom and uses the country’s Durban port to import some of its fuels, as an alternative fuel import route to the Feruka Pipeline.
The parties contend that a memorandum of understanding will extend the scope of their collaboration in the field of energy, including in basic infrastructure to enable sharing of the commodity, which is in critical short supply in the region.
But Mr Mbiriri said although the two countries had cordial relations and already cooperated in the area of energy, absence of a framework agreement limited the extent to which they can do it.
He said Zimbabwe has a lot to learn from South Africa with regards to renewable energy, which it is trying to promote, as one of the sustainable solutions to its acute shortage of power.
“The agreement will be between the two Governments; that is the Department of Energy of South Africa and the Ministry of Energy and Power Development of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“On our side, we have already gone through all the processes and we believe they have also done the same.”
Mr Mbiriri said the two neighbours collaborate in a number of ways including trade in electricity, in terms of which Zimbabwe imports between 50 megawatts to 350MW to bridge its power deficit while Harare uses the Durban port to import fuel.
The two countries are also seeking greater collaboration in terms of infrastructure with plans afoot to build a second power interconnection line lining Zimbabwe and South Africa to be used to transmit power from the “great” Inga Dam in DRC.
Mr Mbiriri said the infrastructure will also come in handy when Pretoria needs power to be wheeled from the Batoka Gorge hydro power plant, a collaborative project with Zambia. The north-south connection will link northern power sources with South Africa’s commercial capital, Johannesburg.
The energy secretary also noted that Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from South Africa in terms of renewable energy, pointing out that the southern neighbour pumps upwards of 6 000MW of renewable energy onto the national power grid.
“It is in these areas that we need a framework. If the framework is put in place we will be able to explore various areas, which will be of mutual benefit to the two countries. So far, it has really been Government to Government, but there is a limit to the extent of our relations and collaboration outside of a formal MoU,” Mr Mbiriri said.