Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe’s deliberate focus on investing in electricity generation since 2009 is beginning to bear fruit amid indications that all of last week, the country relied solely on locally generated electricity.
The move saw a break from the importation of about 350MW from South African power utility Eskom and Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB).
Electricity imports drain about $12 million per month and the development would be good news to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mangudya, who is battling to equally allocate foreign currency to all sectors of the economy.
The investment in power generation, which started with the refurbishment of Hwange Thermal Power Station (HPS) before shifting to the expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station, which has added 300MW, has resulted in an increase in local generation capacity.
Kariba South now has an installed capacity of 1 050MW.
At the same time, works to add another 600MW of electricity at HPS has begun and the exercise is expected to be completed in 42 months.
Currently, HPS has capacity to generate 920MW, but was producing 356MW yesterday.
ZESA Holdings spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, told The Herald Business yesterday that the country generated enough power for itself last week.
“If you look at last week, we ran our assets and we were not even importing.
“We had a seven day period when we were running our own generation assets and we had enough power,” said Mr Gwasira.
Average national power demand is pegged at 1 400MW. The country produces an average of 1 200MW with the difference met through imports.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe was generating 1 209MW from Kariba (853MW) and Hwange (356MW).
All three small thermal power stations Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo were not generating due to various technical challenges.
Bulawayo last generated on Monday while Harare and Munyati have been down for some time.
Said Mr Gwasira: “Small thermal power stations – Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo – have different technical challenges, which is why they are not producing.
“The challenges are being addressed.”
Harare has a boiler header cap leak while Munyati has a faulty generation rotor and Bulawayo tripped due to a system disturbance, which is said to be normal in an electricity network.
However, considering that the small thermal power stations produce a combined average of 75MW when operational, that can easily be met by generation from Kariba.
But the 75MW they produce can light up Masvingo. Harare requires about 500MW while Bulawayo needs about 250MW.
At the moment, Kariba produces anything from 790MW to 1 034MW on a good day.
Mr Gwasira said the country has no threat of going back into power outages given the available generation capacity.
The Herald Business was inundated with calls from Harare residents, particularly on Tuesday evening when the Warriors played DRC in a 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium, who said they had experienced power cuts.
Mr Gwasira said the storm that hit some parts of the country on Monday affected ZESA’s bulk supply called Parkridge on the western side, leading to loss of power largely in the southern and western suburbs.
In Harare, eastern suburbs such as Mandara, Glen Lorne, Borrowdale, Shawasha Hills, Eastlea and Hatfield, were affected by the loss of about 132 000 volts.
The problem was rectified yesterday.
Zimbabwe last had load shedding on December 7, 2015.