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Zim to face load shedding? Not just yet, say authorities but we need more money

Apr 03 2019 11:38
Crecey Kuyedzwa, Fin24

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) says it does not expect any load shedding for as long as it can maintain power production at its power plants across the country.

The power utility filed an application for a 30% tariff increase in mid-March, but is yet to get a reply from Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera).  

In its application, ZESA, which has not increased tariffs in the last seven years, argued that an increased electricity tariff is the only way the power utility will be able to repair its transmission and distribution network while also allowing the firm to purchase inputs such as coal and diesel. The prices for the latter have since increased.

Failure to do so, it said, will result in insufficient maintenance which could lead to blackouts in localities and lines collapsing.

Load shedding not imminent

ZESA's acting chief executive officer Engineer Patrick Chivaura, however, said there are no imminent threats of load shedding in the southern African country at the moment.

"At the moment we are not load shedding. If we are able to maintain Hwange Power Plant ... it may not be immediately necessary to load shed," he said.

Chivaura said the power utility is making all the necessary preparations to ensure that all its power generation plants are "firing" ahead of winter. 

He said power supply will also be cushioned by imports from Eskom. It receives 50MW from Eskom as well as from Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.

New power generation

Despite struggling to maintain its ageing power fleet, ZESA has managed to bring new power plants on board in recent years.

Last year it added 300 megawatts to the national grid from the Kariba South Power Station. The expansion increased Kariba South hydro power plant’s installed capacity to 1050MW. 

The southern African country also expects to add a further 600MW to the national grid from the Hwange thermal power station where work has already commenced.

Zimbabwe has also partnered with Zambia for development of Batoka Gorge power plant, which will generate 2 400MW to be shared equally between the two nations and work is expected to start by end of this year. 

As of Tuesday, Zimbabwe was producing an average of 1 604MW and charges a tariff of US9.83c kWh.

Power requirements in Zimbabwe have however been on the low side amid low economic activity which has seen factories remain closed.

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