Zim, Botswana ink power deal

2010-01-06 14:23

Harare - Zimbabwe's struggling power utility has signed an eight million dollar deal with Botswana to revive a shut-down thermal power station and ease national blackouts, state media reported on Wednesday.

Under the deal, the Botswana Power Company will provide funds to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to refurbish the plant in the second city of Bulawayo and buy coal from the country's main colliery, the Herald newspaper said.

Zimbabwe will export power to Gaborone in return, it added.

"The deal will see us reviving the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station and enabling us to generate 90 megawatts and of this 40 megawatts will be exported to Botswana," ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro told the Herald newspaper.

"This will go a long way in easing pressure on the national grid."

Bulawayo and other small thermal power stations in the country were shut down in June 2008 due to Zimbabwe's financial crisis and ailing infrastructure.

Since February last year, industrial activity has been rising from a low of 10% to almost 55% by year end, but growth is limited by the scant power supply - adding to the pressure for more coal or other energy sources.

The southern African country spends millions of dollars importing electricity from its neighbours, just to keep the lights on some of the time in parts of the country, which at times go for 15 to 20 hours without power.