Nesia Mhaka Business Reporter
Zimbabweans should not panic over the availability of electricity following resumption of rolling power blackouts in South Africa, amid indications the country now has the bulk of its power needs after refurbishing and expanding key generation infrastructure.
Hwange Thermal Power Station and the Kariba South Hydropower Plant, have been refurbished and expanded recently, helping the country to cut the import bill by almost $12 million per month as the internal generation has not only stabilised, but also increased.
The rise in local power generation has resulted in a drastic decline in power imports from neighbours South Africa and Mozambique, which were gobbling about $15 million per month.
ZESA Holdings spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira, told The Herald Business on Tuesday that the country is now spending just $3 million a month on imports.
“There are a number of internal interventions that were initiated by the organisation that resulted in this improved power supply situation, which also saw a subsequent reduction in power import obligations,” said Mr Gwasira. “ZETDC (the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution) is now spending about $3 million on power imports on a monthly basis and has been managing the situation well. This has resulted in huge foreign currency savings, as the power import bill has tumbled from an average of $15 million per month.”
Mr Gwasira said Zimbabwe is now importing a paltry 50MW from Eskom of South Africa on a “need basis” and another 50MW from Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique on a “firm basis”.
The recently commissioned Kariba South power plant, whose expansion added another 300MW to the national grid, has boosted internal electricity generation to over 1000 MW.
Hwange Thermal Power Station has been refurbished and had regular maintenance works done to ensure an increase and steady supply of electricity.
Currently, works are underway to expand Hwange Power Station, with the addition of units 7 and 8, which will result in the addition of 600MW to the grid upon completion in the next 42 months.
As Zimbabwe enjoys a relatively stable supply of electricity, neighbouring South Africa is grappling fierce power outages resulting in untold load shedding.
South African power utility Eskom yesterday notified citizens that “due to the shortage of generating capacity, Eskom will continue to implement stage 3 load-shedding today, February 13 2019, from 8am until 11pm”.
Meanwhile, Mr Gwasira said since the introduction of the prepaid metering platform, customers have become “more conscious and more careful on their usage of power”.
“There was a reduction of about 15 percent on usage from all domestic prepaid customers when compared to their usage pattern during the post-paid metering era,” said Mr Gwasira.
He added that ZETDC is engaged in media campaigns designed to conscientise customers on the use of electricity.
Source : The Herald